Softball star receives invite to South Africa tour

Former Naugatuck High School softball player Gillian Fortier now plays for Albertus Magnus College. –CONTRIBUTED

Former Naugatuck High School softball player Gillian Fortier now plays for Albertus Magnus College. –CONTRIBUTED

It only took one swing of the bat to tell that former Naugatuck High School softball star Gillian Fortier was going places.

The four-time All State and All-NVL slugger is now in her sophomore year at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven where she plays softball and studies criminal justice.

As a freshman, Gillian set Albertus Magnus College’s single-season record with 64 hits on her way to being the first player in school history to be named Rookie of the Year and the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Player of the Year in the same season.

All that attention drew plenty of interest.

Last month, Fortier was contacted by Beyond Sports Program Director Grant Leslie, who invited Gillian to participate in the South African Softball Tour held June 19 through July 1.

“I knew I had a pretty good season,” Fortier said. “But I must admit I was quite surprised by the invite and felt it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”

The cost of the trip is $5,000. Fortier’s father, Scott, has set up a GoFundMe page, “Gillian’s Africa Trip,” to help raise the money. As of Tuesday, $1,200 had been raised.

The trip includes round trip airfare, 10 nights of lodging, three meals per day and insurance. The team will play three softball games, enjoy sightseeing and conduct service learning clinics to the local youth.

The team of collegiate All-Stars will arrive in Cape Town, South Africa and will play a game the following day at the Turfhall Sports Complex, the home of the 2011 Junior Women’s World Softball Championships.

Fortier will need to respond to the invitation with the next few weeks. If she is not able to commit the offer will go to another athlete.

“The most rewarding part of the trip will be teaching the local youth through our service clinics,” Fortier said. “I feel learning about another culture and working with children will be so beneficial in my studies.”

For more information or to donate, visit www.gofundme.com and search “Gillian’s Africa Trip” to find her page.