By Joe DeLeone
KINGSTON, R.I. - Dinner in the Julich house was always filled with lively softball commentary and playful teasing: Who's the best hitter? Who has the strongest arm? Who can get around the bases the fastest?
Even though Paige Julich was the baby of the trio, she still held her own against her two big sisters, Brittany and Jessica. Today, she projects that same confidence and competitiveness as a senior captain for Rhode Island softball team.
The outfielder has been a standout for the Rams over the last three years. In that time, Julich has hit .236 with 11 home runs and 54 runs batted in over 137 career games. She ranks ninth in program history in home runs and has served as a captain for the last two years.
Family has always been important in Paige's life, whether it's the one she built over four years on the softball fields on the Kingston campus or the one she lived with back home on Long
Island. It might not have been easy growing up with two older softball-playing siblings, but that dynamic helped pave the way for her softball career at URI.
"I got into softball because my two older sisters played and I just fell in love with it," Julich said. "I was able to get better coaching because it was my parents third time going through it."
Back in Kings Park, Julich grew up like any New Yorker, living and loving sports. From an early age, Julich watched her sisters Brittany, who is six
years older, and Jessica, who is four years older. Even playing with large expectations set for her at Kings Park High School, she made her own mark after earning back-to-back New York All-State Second Team selections in 2013 and 2014.
As Paige was dominating on the diamond on Long Island, Brittany and Jessica were doing the same at the intercollegiate level. Brittany excelled at URI, finishing in a tie with Kellie Cookus as the program's all-time hits leader with 180. Jessica competed at Division II LIU Post in New York. Soon, it was Paige's turn to continue the Julich softball dynasty.
Most sibling relationships breed rivalry and, sometimes, jealousy. That was not the case with the Julich sisters. The Julichs did not compete intensely and were always there to help one another.
"Growing up with sisters who play the sport was a lot of fun," Paige Julich said. "I got to learn from them not only in life, but also on the field."
Due to the age gap, Paige did not have the opportunity to play with her big sisters often, while Brittany and Jessica had the chance to play on the same team. However, Paige did get the
chance to play centerfield with her sisters to the right and left during a tournament game on their travel team.
"I was so nervous because I was so much younger than everyone else," she said. "But it was one of my highlights being able to play side-by-side with them just that one time."
After her high school career concluded, it was a matter of where she wanted to play, not if she wanted to play.
"Honestly a major reason I chose to play softball in college is not only because I love the sport, but also because I saw how rewarding it was for my sisters," Julich said. "I wasn't ready to lose that competitive edge after high school."
Despite her parents convincing her to look at multiple schools, Paige had her heart set on one school, the one tucked behind the turf farms in Kingston and next to the windy beaches of
"I fell in love with the campus and area because I kept coming up to watch Brit play softball," Julich said. "So when it came to time to look at schools I was already dead set on URI."
While she's a standout at every game, her impact is even bigger in the locker room. At the beginning of her junior season, Paige was named one of two captains for the Rams for her
final two seasons. In that role, she has emphasized togetherness, teamwork and, most importantly, family.
"I want to be remembered for always pushing the team to work hard, and always having that openness dynamic with the team and that support system, and I want my teammates to know I would do anything for them on and off the field," Julich said.
As the Rams get ready for their home opener Sunday in a doubleheader with George Washington, Julich knows her time at URI is coming to an end. For her, this means one final push to make the Atlantic 10 tournament, which has not been accomplished in her time as a member of the team. She believes she and her teammates can achieve that goal.
"We have so much depth on this team," Julich said. "If we just go out there and be confident in ourselves, there is not team we can't beat."
Senior Captain Julich Keeps Family Tradition Alive on the Diamond
By Joe DeLeone