Glorious Triumphs and Worthwhile Experiences

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – Atlantic 10 Tournament / Bronx, NY (A10 TOURNAMENT CHAMPS)

Rams posing with the trophy after the big win.

Rams posing with the trophy after the big win. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

I took the time to look around and take it all in. In the 5th inning, with the score 11-0 and a trip to the NCAA Tournament just three outs away, I gave myself the chance to truly enjoy what was happening at that very moment.

It wasn’t exactly what I had imagined it would be, but then again, most things usually aren’t. When a championship game is decided by the mercy-rule, the immediate thrill of victory isn’t nearly as electrifying. After letting it sink in for a few days, however, I’m glad there was never any doubt that we were going to win that final game against St. Louis because it allowed me to step outside of myself for the last three outs, and live in that moment I had been dreaming about all year.

So much of my writing over the course of this season has been about seizing the moment, enjoying the journey, and even appreciating the seemingly difficult things along the way. In a matter of three outs, probably equaling about five to seven minutes, I was able to do each of those things.

Talk about things coming full circle.

Perfect symmetry, as Lauren and Amy celebrate (left), while Elise and I do the same (right).

Perfect symmetry: Lauren and Amy celebrate (left), while Elise and I do the same (right). (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

I thought about the grueling 6am conditioning workouts in our outfield in September, as well as the time spent practicing and earning the right to be standing on the field at that very moment.

I flashed back to some of the hardest times during the season, too; I looked at Elise next to me at shortstop and remembered how, two months ago after a painful loss to Central Michigan in Florida, she had said that it wasn’t too late to turn our season around, and that we could go on a run and eventually be laughing about all the struggles we had endured.

I looked around and took in the beautiful surroundings of Bahoshy Field, which had not been that packed since Alabama came to play us in 2012. With the banners hanging high along the fence and the home crowd buzzing for the championship they knew to be inevitable, I felt a sense of pride.

When the final out was ultimately recorded (a line drive right back to Michele at the mound), I ran and jumped into Elise’s arms for the second consecutive year; a childlike celebration reflecting the pure and unadulterated joy of the moment.

Rams mob Sydney after leading off the championship game with a home run.

Rams mob Sydney after leading off the championship game with a home run. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

After the game, a few of my friends were commenting about how I had a huge smile plastered across my face during the entirety of the last inning. I couldn’t help but smile, both outwardly and inwardly. We had done it. We had accomplished our biggest goal of repeating as Atlantic 10 Champions, and had done so on our home field. We had overcome struggles from the beginning of the journey that had caused us to question our team’s identity and make a conscious choice to alter the trajectory of our season. We had risen to the occasion and played our best softball when it mattered most, as we swept through the three games we played in the Atlantic 10 tournament without leaving a doubt in anyone’s mind that we were the best team in the conference.

Although the championship game may have reflected an easy path to victory, with the score being lopsided and the mercy-rule coming into effect, the irony of the situation is that the road to the championship was anything but easy for us. As a team, we had to endure some of the lowest of lows throughout the season; from being humbled for the first time in Charleston, to going 0-5 in California, to the disaster that was the Bradley game, to team and personal conflicts throughout the journey, and most recently, to the embarrassment of being swept by Dayton, our journey to the top of the mountain had several pitfalls along the way.

Me and the trophy, a moment I had been waiting for all season.

A moment I had been waiting for all season. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

But, as Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.”

To me, the value of our 2014 Atlantic 10 Conference Championship is greater than any trophy or banner could ever symbolize; it rests in the memories I will always cherish and the people I experienced the journey with.

As we continue our season at Florida State University in the NCAA Regionals this upcoming weekend, I plan to continue seizing the moment, enjoying the journey, and even appreciating the seemingly difficult things along the way. After all, that’s what makes the triumphs glorious and the experiences worthwhile.

Lifting the Anchor for the Final Leg of the Journey

Monday, May 5, 2014 – University of Dayton / Dayton, OH

Team picture at the annual Block F student-athlete banquet before we left for the Dayton series.

Team picture at the annual Block F student-athlete banquet before we left for the Dayton series. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

For the first time in four weeks, we Rams lost a softball game. Two games, in fact. One 5am departure from campus and a connecting flight later, we arrived in Dayton, Ohio on Friday to play our final series of the regular season. Dayton had everything to play for; not only was it their senior day, but it was also their last opportunity to make the Atlantic 10 tournament. They were a bubble team who needed to at least split with us in order to book their trip to the Bronx. We, on the other hand, were playing simply for pride, as we had already wrapped up the number one seed in the tournament with our sweep of La Salle the weekend before.

From the early goings of game one on Saturday against Dayton, we knew we were in for a dogfight. They hopped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning before going up 5-1 on us by the third. Each inning thereafter, we chipped away at their lead. Elise finally tied the score at five with a two-run bomb in the sixth inning.

Heading to the eighth, with the score still tied at five, we erupted for four runs and a collective feeling that we had sealed the win. Dayton had other feelings, however, as they answered right back with four runs of their own, forcing the game to continue. Their unthinkable comeback took the wind right out of our sails, as it took everything we had to battle back and finally take the lead, before the ultimate feeling of deflation took effect. Dayton eventually walked off on us in the tenth inning to cap a crazy three-hour game.

The second game, which occurred just 20 minutes after our disappointing loss in game one, was a complete blur for nearly everyone on our sideline. Upon discussion later that night at the airport, we came to the conclusion that we lost the second game in the eighth inning of the first when we relinquished our four-run lead. Our 15-game winning streak had ended, and we were forced to swallow the bitter pill of defeat for the first time in four weeks; a taste we had nearly forgotten.

Me with Michele, our stud pitcher and one of my very best friends, at the Block F banquet. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

Me with Michele, our stud pitcher and one of my very best friends, at the Block F banquet.

With the loss also came the end of my own personal ribbon-wearing streak. Since our game at Lehigh at the beginning of April, in which we came from behind and won in the final inning, I have been wearing the same red ribbon with blue anchors in my hair for each game we have played. One of our super freshmen and center fielder Sydney gave our team the ribbon to wear that day. Her message behind giving us the anchor ribbon was to use its symbol of hope as a reminder to keep the focus on our goals and prevent us from drifting. She also used it as a metaphor for what it means to be a teammate. The anchor represents the stability and strength that we have in each other.

I loved that. So much, in fact, that I vowed to wear the ribbon until we lost again.

As we set off on our final voyage of the season, we are ready to lift the anchor and embark on what will certainly be our most trying journey yet. Along with the anchor, our hopes are also rising with the possibilities that this upcoming week will bring. It is championship week; the time we have been preparing for since August. Our shortcomings at Dayton, along with the myriad other experiences of our season, will serve as preparation for the rough waters ahead of us in the A10 tournament and hopefully beyond.

The lifting of the anchor has us steadfast in our pursuit of the destination: an Atlantic 10 championship. We are hopeful and excited for what is ahead, and ready to embark on our final journey with an unparalleled zeal and determination. Our ship is built on the stability and strength we have in each other, and I am confident that there is not a stronger or better-prepared ship than ours in the A10 to take on the upcoming storms on the sea.

Accomplish Goals, Sharpen the Focus

Sunday, April 27, 2014 – La Salle University / Philadelphia, PA (A10 REGULAR SEASON CHAMPS)

Before the start of every season, it is a Fordham Softball tradition to write down each goal we have collectively and individually. We girls sit in a circle with our coaches at the helm, and spend roughly an hour discussing our expectations and hopes, both small and lofty, for the upcoming months of the season. This year, one of our many collective goals, as it is every season, was to win both the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament championships. Despite the fact that we won the tournament last year, we did not win the regular season, finishing second behind St. Joe’s.

We were able to cross this goal off of our list on Saturday, as we swept La Salle behind two dominating offensive performances to clinch the regular season title with one week still remaining in the regular season. No matter what happens when we play Dayton next weekend, we will possess the number one seed and receive a first round bye for the A10 tournament at our home field in the Bronx in ten days.

The team posing with our “championship cheese steaks.” Our coaches took us out for Philly cheese steaks after sweeping LaSalle to clinch the Atlantic 10 regular season title.

Despite the distinct honor we are afforded as the regular season Atlantic 10 champions, rings are not won in the regular season. It is of the utmost importance for us to acknowledge this now.

My Dad frequently tells me that one of the most important factors for success in softball is to always have a sharpened focus, with the immediate tasks (hitting, fielding, etc.) at the forefront of your thoughts, and the ultimate goals (wins, championships) in the back of your mind. Being able to maintain this focus, which has propelled us to our current 15-game winning streak, will be the key for our success in the upcoming A10 tournament.

While it is great to see us accomplish our team goals, it is also fun to watch each other accomplish individual goals. For instance, my best friend and teammate Elise has emerged as the best player in the Atlantic 10 this season (if not the best player in the entire northeast region). On Saturday, she set the Fordham Softball single-season RBI record with 64, after launching a three-run bomb against LaSalle. She then went on to hit another home run (a grand slam), in the same game, which increased her RBI total to 68. I would be remiss if I forgot to mention the modern day Mantle-Maris home run chase that is now taking place at Rose Hill, as both Elise and our catcher Gabby are pursuing the all-time Fordham Softball career home run record. The record is 45 and they have 42 and 41, respectively. This is really fun stuff to witness, folks.

Winning the regular season is just the first accomplishment of several goals we have for the end of our season. These next ten days before the Atlantic 10 tournament are perhaps the most crucial of all the days this season, as we will need to work towards sharpening our focus in preparation for our toughest battles ahead. We are on the cusp of greatness; I can almost taste it.

A Bittersweet Softball Symphony

Monday, April 21, 2014 – St. Louis University & University of Massachusetts / Bronx, NY

The team after the senior day ceremony.

The team poses after the senior day ceremony. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

Amid the 60-game schedule, the practices and workouts, the seemingly endless travel, and everything else that comes with being a Division 1 athlete, I sometimes forget that life won’t always be the way that it is right now, and mostly, that it won’t be forever spent with my teammates. This was poignantly brought to my attention during our senior day ceremony on Saturday. When our seniors (Elise, Gabby, Tina, and Bri) were honored on Bahoshy Field between games of our doubleheader against UMass, I got significantly more emotional than I anticipated getting. I have never been one to handle endings very well, and it certainly showed on Saturday. I cried for the loss of four people who have been staples in my life as a Fordham Softball player, for the end of their almost lifelong softball careers, and at the realization that my time is also nearing, as I and my five other softball classmates are next in line to take the emotional walk across Bahoshy Field on senior day.

Saturday was bittersweet. For all the sadness it brought me, it also reminded me about just how amazing it is that we not only get to travel the country and represent our university while playing the game we love at the highest level, but we are also afforded the opportunity to form incredible relationships with people along the way. People who were strangers to me just a few years ago have become, and will remain, some of the best friends I have ever had in my life. No matter where our lives take us long after the last out is made in our softball careers, we will forever be bonded by Fordham Softball. This, I believe, is the most beautiful thing about college sports.

The second most beautiful thing about college sports, I believe, is when a team is in sync and firing on all cylinders. That, I know from experience, is a thing of beauty to witness and be part of.

Elise and me during an emotional senior day ceremony.

Elise and me during an emotional senior day ceremony. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

We are in that place right now. Things continued to click for us this past week, as we extended our winning streak to 11 games, and 17 wins in 18 tries. After playing #24 LSU to a 3-3 tie on Tuesday before the game was called due to rain in the fourth inning, we rolled to sweeps of both St. Louis and UMass, two formidable Atlantic 10 opponents. Once again, we displayed resilience and fight, as we came from behind in both series and demonstrated some late-inning heroics to secure our spot atop the conference for yet another week.

As we enter the final stretch of our season, with just six regular season games remaining, we are focused on our collective mission to win another championship and get back to the promised land of the NCAA tournament. Although senior day served as a sad reminder that very few things are permanent in college athletics, it helped me realize that the most important things last forever: the friendships and championships. With the friendships firmly established and in place, I hope more than anything that we can send our seniors out with a championship that will both solidify their legacies, and make the end of their softball careers less bitter and more sweet.

The Comeback Kids with an Emerging “It” Factor

Monday, April 14, 2014 – University of Rhode Island & Binghamton University / Bronx, NY

More than a month ago, before the start of the USF Series, I wrote about how I thought we were on the cusp of a “coming out” weekend after having experienced the toughest tests of our season in Palm Springs and Orlando. The type of weekend I anticipated us having then was one that served as a true display of offensive prowess; One in which we would puff out our chests, knock some balls out of the park, and approach the game with an attitude and a swagger that would make us intimidating to opponents.

Needless to say, I was a bit premature with my estimation, as this type of collective performance did not occur until this past weekend against Binghamton University. But boy, was it worth the wait!

Team dinner at Elise's house before the URI series. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

Team dinner at Elise’s house before the URI series. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

After sweeping Rhode Island on Saturday, we returned home to Bahoshy Field to take on the hard-hitting (emphasis on the word “hard”) Bearcats in a doubleheader. After falling behind in the early goings of both games, we battled back and displayed one of our best offensive performances in recent memory in front of our home crowd. We recorded 23 hits and seven home runs (including three from Gabby and two from Elise) on the day, as we defeated Binghamton 10-7 and 10-9 in the twin bill.

Things have really been coming together nicely for us. From top to bottom, we are mashing, pitching well, playing great defense, and most importantly, showing heart, fight, and desire each and every time we step in-between the white lines. We have found our identity: we are the reigning A10 Champion Fordham Rams, the other Bronx Bombers, who play with fire and intensity, and can comeback from any deficit. We have proven this time and time again over the past few weeks. I believe we are beginning to display an “it” factor; the intangible competitive quality that is a combination of confidence and fire, which separates the champions from the rest.

Of course there are still improvements to be made and work to be done, as we still have more than ten games remaining before the tournament, but we are currently playing the best we have all season. We’ve won 13 out of our last 14 games since playing at UVA during spring break. Over that time, we have improved our record to 25-16 and currently stand atop the A10 standings with a conference record of 5-1.

Tomorrow, barring a rainout, we are scheduled to play nationally-ranked LSU. It will be the first time we have played a ranked opponent at home since Alabama, the eventual National Champions, rolled up to Bahoshy in 2012, only to be sent back to SEC country with their last loss of that season. We are in the best position we have been in all year to take on an opponent like the Tigers.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, we are making a very good case to repeat as A10 Champions in less than a month. If we continue to play like we have been, with that intensity, comeback mentality, and aforementioned “it” factor we have shown, the happiest of times will surely be ahead of us in mid-May.

With the Target on Your Back, Learn to Attack

Saturday, April 5, 2014 – Hofstra University & George Mason University / Bronx, NY

This week, we learned that every team in the A10 is going to rise to the occasion to play us. We split with a scrappy George Mason squad in a doubleheader this Saturday at home. Because it was our first home series in-conference, we formally unveiled our 2013 A10 championship banner before the start of the games.

The formal unveiling of our 2013 Atlantic 10 Championship banner at Bahoshy Field. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

The formal unveiling of our 2013 Atlantic 10 Championship banner at Bahoshy Field. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

The banner unveiling may have served as more of a curse than a blessing for us, as it appeared to ignite George Mason’s fire, en route to their 3-2 victory over us in game one. We bounced back in game two with a 7-3 win, however, despite trailing 3-0 in the first inning. This showed good resiliency and resolve from our team, as we were able to collectively flush the first game and salvage the doubleheader with a split.

The loss to George Mason was a good lesson for us. It proved that as the defending A10 champions, our conference foes are going to give us their best, even if they are inferior opponents on paper. As the old sports adage goes, “In order to be the best, you have to beat the best,” and since we are currently the standard that the rest of the A10 is trying to reach, we are the game that is circled on their schedules. If we fall asleep on anyone (like we did with George Mason in game one of the doubleheader), we are susceptible to defeat. I think it will be beneficial for us in the long run to realize this now.

Another positive takeaway from the past week was defeating Hofstra for the first time in the regular season in four years. As our head coach Bridget told us after the game, this was a big win for our program. Hofstra is a perennial NCAA tournament team that started the season receiving votes in the USA Today Division I softball polls. Our pitchers and defense were able to hold down a one-run lead for four innings, as we beat them 3-2 on our home field.

With two more mid-week games ahead of us next week against Lehigh and Army, we will prepare for yet another important conference match-up against the Rhode Island Rams in Kingston. We expect every conference series from here on out to be tough, but I know we are up to the task.

Despite the one-run loss to Mason, I still believe we are hot right now. The loss served as a gut check to remind us that we have to show up, both mentally and physically, to every game if we expect to win. Nothing is going to be given to us. If we want to unveil another banner next season, we are going to have to earn every victory, especially in-conference. It is crucial for us to keep in mind that when the target is on your back, you must learn to attack.

Rainy Days, High Spirits

Sunday, March 30, 2014 – Rained Out

For the first time since the beginning of February, we Rams are spending a weekend at home in the Bronx without playing a single softball game. Our A10 championship game rematch against St. Joseph’s will have to wait, as the rain has wiped out our most anticipated conference series of the season.

This little hiatus from playing has given me a chance to reflect on the week that was, as well as the progress we have made over the last couple of weeks. We are currently riding a five-game winning streak, during which we have recorded run-rule victories in each of our last three games. Sweeping George Washington at their place last weekend was huge for us and our confidence. We entered that series with a swagger and a fire that translated into a great collective performance on the field, and left no doubt in the minds of anyone watching that we are a championship-caliber team. Those George Washington games were fun to play in, as there was a tangible playoff atmosphere present in D.C. last Saturday.

Rams celebrating Sydney's monster bomb into the tennis courts at Bahoshy Field against Marist.

Rams celebrating Sydney’s monster bomb into the tennis courts at Bahoshy Field against Marist. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

The momentum we gained from the GW series carried over into our first home games of the season on Thursday against Marist. Despite a full day of classes before the double-header, as well as frigid temperatures, we recorded two more statement wins. With our new championship banners hanging high on the left field fence for the first time, we mercied Marist in both games and got out of there in ten innings. We had our first real offensive explosion of the season, as we outscored the reigning MAAC Champions 20-3 in two games.

At one point during the second Marist game while we were on defense, I took a look around the field and thought about how incredible it would be to win the A10 title on our home field in about five weeks. Not only do we have an opportunity this year to win the first back-to-back Atlantic 10 championships in program history, but we can do it at home! I know I’m getting a little ahead of myself, as we just started conference play, but a girl can dream, right?

My spirits are high right now. We are over .500 for the first time since the second week of the season, 2-0 in conference, and playing all-around good softball. The bats are really coming around, and our experience against top flight pitching is showing and starting to pay dividends against the teams we have been facing recently.

Our assistant coach Bob and I talked briefly before the start of last week’s GW games about the three different seasons that occur over the course of the journey; The first being the preseason (every game leading up to conference play), the second is the regular season (conference games), and the third is the postseason (the A10 tournament and beyond). At the start of the second “season” of our journey, I can clearly see a difference in the growth and development of our team now and our team at the start of the preseason. If this upward trajectory persists, and we continue to grow and improve as a team like we have done over the past month, I can see us hoisting the trophy on Bahoshy Field in May. Until then, I’m going to continue riding this wave with my spirits high and my sights set on that ultimate prize.

Perceiving People and “Such is Life” Moments in a Different Light

Friday, March 21, 2014 – George Washington University / Washington, D.C.

After a week in which we experienced rainouts, cancellations, 35 degree outdoor practices, an inordinate amount of downtime, a broken down bus, a nine-hour wait for a new bus to bring us from South Carolina to Virginia, and a 3am arrival in Virginia on gameday, I think all of us can agree that spring break did not go quite as planned. Our trip did not start out this way, however, as there seemed to be such promise and upward potential after our first 24-hours in South Carolina.

We went 2-0 on Saturday after convincing victories over Troy and Georgia State. We were riding high on adrenaline after our games, so we took to the beach and boardwalk to enjoy the beautiful Myrtle Beach weather for some spring break fun. Little did we know when we woke up on Sunday morning that the normalcy of the trip would end there. For the rest of the week, just when we thought our plans were secure and things were looking up, something seemed to go awry and derail them in some way.

Our unusual week made me think of the saying, “such is life,” in regards to the unpredictable events of our spring break. Samuel Johnson wrote in the 18th century, “Such is life, that whatever is proposed, it is much easier to find reasons for rejecting than embracing.” I’m not going to lie and say that I was able to embrace the derailments of spring break over the past week. As with everything this season, however, I’m trying to look at the benefits of the experience, and how it will help my teammates and me in the long run.

Michele, Tina, and me during team bonding at Medieval Times in Myrtle Beach.

Michele, Tina, and me during team bonding at Medieval Times in Myrtle Beach.

Because of our constantly changing plans, we were forced to spend significantly more time together in a non-softball setting than we ever normally would have. We had the opportunity to shop together, eat together (way more than usual), experience Medieval Times together, color each other’s hair, and just be normal girls together. In retrospect, it was actually pretty nice to be able to hang out with some of my closest friends, as well as some of the girls who I don’t usually spend time with off the field, and see these people in a different light.

On Monday night, I watched Dead Poet’s Society for the first time in my hotel room. Robin Williams’ ability to find beauty and inspiration in poetry, as well as his “carpe diem” approach to life, was nothing short of moving to me. This classic movie is filled with myriad memorable quotes, but one line applied particularly well to our spring break experiences: “We must constantly look at things in a different way. It is important to have perspective in life. Without it, we would all see things in one way.”

This quote not only applies to the “such is life” moments we endured in Myrtle Beach, but also to the preconceived notions we have about the people we don’t usually take the time to know off the field. I know I was better able to identify with some of my most unfamiliar teammates during this trip, as a result of us spending so much time together, and thus, being able to see them just as they are. It’s amazing how a group of people can travel thousands of miles together, eat together, live together, and play together, but not really understand each other until they are forced to see one another in a different light. Maybe the greater purpose for the derailments was to force us to gain this new perspective, no matter how difficult it was to understand in the moment.

I hope our spring break experiences will make us closer going forward. It could be a premature assumption, but I think this new-found understanding of one another is coming at the right time. The real season starts tomorrow, as we open up conference play at George Washington University. It will be a great opportunity for us to gauge how we stack up against one of the conference’s best teams, as well as a chance to make a statement to the rest of the teams in the A10. As of right now, everyone in the Atlantic 10 is undefeated, despite the ups and downs we have all experienced so far this season.

Tomorrow marks a clean slate; A chance to turn the page, and enter into a promising, new phase of the season. A chance to use the “such is life” moments we have endured over the last 28 games to our advantage to fuel the quest to defend our Atlantic 10 title.

Seizing the Moment On and Off the Diamond

Friday, March 14, 2014 – Coastal Carolina University / Myrtle Beach, SC

As we enter hour eleven of this seemingly endless bus ride, I’m feeling regretful about how I have spent my time on this Coach bus today.

I just realized that I haven’t truly gazed out the window once in eleven hours. Through six states and an entire day of driving, I haven’t taken a single stretch of at least five minutes to take in the passing signs or various landscapes along the way. I’ve been so caught up in my own thoughts and distracted by my electronics, as well as the movies that have drowned out the moments I haven’t had my headphones in, that I’ve missed out on the sights of this journey, as well as chances to have meaningful interactions with my teammates. I didn’t seize the opportunity to see something beautiful today, gain a new perspective, or step outside of myself long enough to appreciate the experience and do something worthwhile.

After two wins on Saturday, we took to the beach to celebrate and have a little spring break fun.

After two wins on Saturday, we took to the beach to celebrate and have a little spring break fun.

Now, some might say, what is there to appreciate about a 14-hour drive on a cramped, smelly bus with 20 cranky girls? Perhaps the sight of a beautiful body of water on top of a bridge, a field of open land, or teammates sharing jokes, opinions, and memories. Certainly more than what meets the eye.

This 14-hour bus ride is reminiscent of both the college softball season and life’s journey: Long, arduous at times, with each place we pass serving as a mere mark on the map getting us closer to our eventual destination. Even though I know we will get to the end of our ride eventually, the feeling of coasting is tricking my mind into thinking that it will go on forever like this.

But, it won’t. This bus ride, and our season, will end sooner than we think. I don’t want to experience the same feeling of regret at the end of this season, or my time at Fordham, that I am feeling right now on this bus ride. A feeling that I’ve let something pass me by without making the most of the experience, the people around me, and the opportunities to do, see, and endure potentially great things.

Elise, our senior shortstop and one of my best friends, sent me a video this week that Alabama Softball used as motivation during Super Regionals three years ago.

Striking a pose with my best friends and teammates in Myrtle Beach.

Striking a pose with my best friends and teammates in Myrtle Beach.

The entire video inspired me to want to make the most of my opportunity as a college softball player to do special things on and off the field, and salvage the rest of what has been a roller coaster ride of a season, so far. One quote particularly resonated with me: “The game is going to go on, and there is only one rule you’re going to need to know about: there are no second chances. There’s only this moment and the next moment.”

This moment and the next. This game and the next. This pitch and the next. This interaction and the next. The ability to seize each moment, and not only make my college softball journey, but also the journey of my life better for myself and the people I am experiencing it with, is something I desire more than anything. Because, just like the game of softball will go on long after I graduate and stop playing, life will also go on whether or not I remember to look out the window and value the people in my life during these precious Fordham years.

This bus ride metaphor has reminded me to look out the window more often to take in the fleeting sights along the way, to focus less on myself and more on the people who are with me throughout the journey (both on the bus and at home), and not to take any moment of this experience for granted, even the seemingly insignificant places and stops along the way.

I continue to learn more each week about life through softball, as well as from the great people and places that Fordham has allowed me to know and experience. Going forward, it is my goal to try my best to seize the moments for success and victory on the diamond, as well as the moments to enjoy the view from the window and the people I am blessed to have in my life both on and off the field.

Seeing the Light and Emerging From the Tunnel

Thursday, March 6, 2014 – USF Series / Tampa, FL

Today in class, my Global Marketing professor said something that resonated with me so much at the beginning of the lecture that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for much of the remainder of class. Professor DeFrancesco said, “When you do what you’ve always done, you’re going to get what you’ve always gotten.” He definitely wasn’t talking about softball when he said this, but of course my first inclination was to relate his quote to our team and my personal journey so far this season.

My Grandma and me in Tampa. She came to see me play during her month-long winter getaway to Florida.

My Grandma and me in Tampa. She came to see me play during her month-long winter getaway to Florida.

I got to thinking about all of the different meanings that this quote has and the ways I can relate it to my life as a softball player. Although this quote is often said in a disparaging context to highlight a lack of preparation, poor business practices, or something of the sort, I think it can also be applied positively.

During class, I decided to substitute certain words into this quote to fit the mold of what I’ve been thinking about our team since last weekend at the Citrus Classic: “When you play the way you’ve always played, you’re going to get what you’ve always gotten.” This concept goes back to what I mentioned in my last post about the importance of remembering who we are and what we’ve done as individual players, as well as who we are and what we’ve done collectively as members of the Fordham Softball program.

Coming off of the toughest stretch of our season, it is crucial for us to remember how we have (for the most part) always played during our softball careers, both before and during our time at Fordham. If we can, once again, play the way we’ve always played (consistently, cohesively, competitively), then we will get what we’ve always gotten (wins, championships, rings).

After facing four ranked teams (including #1 Florida) and three other opponents receiving votes in the top 25, and going 7-12 to start our 2014 campaign, I think it’s safe to say we’ve been beaten, battered, and tested in the early-goings of our season. This weekend in Tampa, we will be playing our first all-mid-major schedule since the first tournament of the season, and I think we are all looking forward to a bit of a respite. We have made it through the toughest part of our schedule, and other than a single game against LSU in April, we won’t be facing any other ranked teams during the regular season. Now, I’m not saying the rest of our schedule will be easy because I don’t think that will be the case at all, but I am saying that it will be nice to be the favorite again.

Let’s face it, losing is the worst, and I know for sure that all of us are tired of it. When you face consecutive losses and multiple bad games, it can seem like there is no foreseeable light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m starting to see the light, however. My mindset has changed significantly over the past week. After having offensive success at the Citrus Classic last weekend against some of the top teams in the country, I am beginning to see how my early season hitting-woes are already paying dividends for me. Something clicked in my brain last weekend and it became apparent to me that it doesn’t matter who the pitcher on the mound is or what the name on the front of her jersey says, I have already faced the best of the best. In other words, there is nothing a pitcher could throw at me that I haven’t seen before. Whether this feeling of clarity and confidence came from the numerous talks I’ve had with my Dad and DJ, getting sick of under-performing, feeling comfortable in the batter’s box, or a combination of all these things, I’m not quite sure. What I do know, however, is that my offensive success at the Citrus Classic significantly boosted my confidence and reminded me of what I am capable of as a hitter, even after experiencing the toughest offensive stretch of my softball career. I know that facing top-flight pitching repeatedly for nearly twenty games has provided me with invaluable experience that leaves me feeling confident and prepared going up against any pitcher in the future.

After the Missouri game in Palm Springs (we were mercied 8-0 in five innings by the #16 team in the country), Bridget told us that if she could go back in time, she wouldn’t change anything about scheduling such difficult opponents for us. She said that she would rather us get beaten up when it didn’t matter, in order for us to gain the toughness we will need when it will matter during conference play and in the A10 tournament.

It was hard to agree with her at the time, but just two weeks later, after coming out of my own valley and seeing how these struggles have already made me a better, more confident hitter, I can see how the experience our team has gained against some of the best teams in the country is going to pay off for us very soon.

If we can collectively garner confidence from our multiple big-game experiences so far this season, and take out our pent-up frustrations on unsuspecting and less-experienced opponents, the USF Series has the potential to be our coming out weekend. We are on the verge of something great, I can feel it, and I still believe, whole-heartedly, that this team is special.

This weekend, I’m ready for us to play the way we always have as softball players, so that we can get what we’ve always gotten. The way that got us noticed during high school to be recruited by Division 1 programs; the way that has helped us defeat top-ranked opponents in the past; the way that got us our big, fat A10 championship rings from last season.

As we move toward the light and emerge from the tunnel, I’m optimistic that the future will be bright for this team. I know for sure that there isn’t a more battle-tested squad in the A10. With that in mind, it’s time for us to collectively renew our confidence, puff out our chests a little bit, and do to other teams what has already been done to us.