An Athletic Family
Joyce was born August 1, 1940, in Waterbury, Connecticut. Her father was a baseball player and coach for local teams, and Joyce and her brother tagged along to the ball fields. Naturally athletic, she showed an interest and aptitude for the game. With her family's encouragement, Joyce began practicing softball by throwing against a home-made target.
By the age of 16, she was good enough to join the powerhouse Raybestos Brakettes (now the Stratford Brakettes), an amateur fast pitch softball team based in Stratford, Connecticut. When the team's starting pitcher was injured during
the 1958 National Championships, Joyce was moved from first base to the pitching mound. The 18-year-old pitched a no-hitter to win the championship game for her team. Her pitching career was launched.
Joyce developed an arsenal of pitches—drop, riser, curve, and change-up—all delivered from a slingshot motion. She may not have been the fastest pitcher, but her ball movement and stamina soon made her one of the best. Still, her pitches were said to reach up to 118 miles per hour, although they were never timed with a speed gun. She told Tom Yantz of The Hartford Courant, "They probably were in the 70s." They just looked much faster to the batter. And her approach to pitching was simple and effective. She explained to Yantz, "My pitching philosophy was to keep the umpires out of it. That meant pitch to the area where the batter didn't want to swing."