The Lehigh softball team is preparing to face off in a series against rival Lafayette College on the weekend of April 1.
While the rivalry is celebrated most during the football season, the tradition is not so important to the softball team.
“Personally, we treat it as any other game,” sophomore outfielder Ashley Rabago said. “There isn’t a huge emphasis on the fact that they’re a rival school to Lehigh, it’s just a matter of us playing our best. I know we have the whole Le-Laf week for football, but we don’t see it exactly the same way. Although, we were happy to win all three games against Lafayette last year.”
Coach Fran Troyan, coaching in his 22nd season at Lehigh, echoed the the thoughts of his players.
“Our players honestly do not get caught up in this being a rivalry,” Troyan said. “It is simply another meaningful league series. We cannot control our opponent and its ability level.”
Troyan added that the team will continue to prepare for all of its league opponents the same way and will focus on playing to the best of its ability.
Lafayette is led by junior pitcher and outfielder Stephanie Thomas, along with sophomore shortstop Miranda Skurla, who was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year in 2016.
The series will be hosted by Lafayette this year. It will consist of a doubleheader on April 1 at noon and 2 p.m. and will conclude with a game the following day at noon.
The Mountain Hawks (11-14, 3-0 Patriot) are ready to begin their road to a championship through league play after a West Coast tour in California.
“Spring break was our last showing trying to get everything put together and figure out the team dynamic,” Rabago said. “Now we’re trying to put the pieces together and compete. We’ve grown a lot as a team and found the roles that people can take in contributing to the group’s overall success.”
In California, the Mountain Hawks played high-major schools like Northwestern University, University of California and Stanford University.
“California was fun,” freshman catcher Emily Preble said. “We were playing some teams that were ranked high, which was a great test for us. It gave us an opportunity to work out the kinks before the league season. Our preseason record might not reflect it, but I think it was an optimistic trip that showed we have a lot of room to grow which is exciting.”
To Troyan, there are big differences between preseason games and league games. He said the preseason is about challenging the team, while league play is more about playing hard and enjoying the moments.
Senior pitcher Christine Campbell has posted a 2.42 ERA and 7-4 record so far this season. Freshman infielder Mary-Hannah Smith leads the team with a .367 batting average while Yozzo has added a team-high 23 hits to go along with four homers. The Mountain Hawks have four players with at least 20 hits this season.
“We have a lot of depth in our lineup which means we have people ready to go in every scenario,” Preble said. “It’s a toss-up this year, there is no one dominant team in the Patriot League. It’s going to depend on how each team in league plays every weekend.”
Lehigh began league play with a three-game sweep over Boston University last weekend. Prior to Lafayette, the Mountain Hawks will host University of Pennsylvania for a doubleheader Wednesday.