After a slow start to her Lehigh softball career, sophomore Parker Boyd took on the role of the team’s starting pitcher this season.
Hailing from Battle Ground, Washington, Boyd led her high school to an undefeated senior campaign. During her last year on the high school team, Boyd threw eight no-hitters — four of which were perfect games — while leading her team to a district championship. She posted a sub-one overall ERA with 0.33 and set a school record for wins with 20. She graduated high school as a three-time all-league pitcher, a two-time all-region selection and her team’s MVP in each of her four seasons.
Boyd came to Bethlehem because of Lehigh’s academics and notoriously strong softball program, but she said the distance from home can be a challenge.
“Sometimes, it can be tough being so far away from home,” Boyd said.
On top of the difficult adjustment to the east coast, Boyd’s 2017 season did not go according to plan.
As a freshman, Boyd appeared in 18 games for the Mountain Hawks, starting eight of them. She posted the highest ERA of the team’s pitchers with 6.07 and allowed opposing hitters a .333 batting average.
Although her Lehigh softball career had a rocky start, the coaching staff still had high hopes for Boyd.
“The adjustment from high school level to college is tough for everyone,” coach Fran Troyan said. “She just needed a year to get seasoned.”
When the team’s previous starting pitcher Christine Campbell graduated last May, Troyan told Boyd she would be the team’s primary pitcher. Troyan said Boyd earned her spot after the hard work she put in last summer.
Following in Campbell’s footsteps wasn’t the easiest role to step into. Campbell is second on the all-time win list in Patriot League history with 69 victories and appeared in more than 115 games for the Mountain Hawks during her Lehigh softball career.
The thought of stepping up to the mound, however, did not intimidate or scare Boyd.
“It’s been really exciting to get out there and get a lot of time,” Boyd said.
Boyd has not just held her own as the team’s starting pitcher — she has excelled.
This season, Boyd ranks in the top 10 in almost every Patriot League pitching category. She is third in strikeouts with 128, fourth in wins with 12 and sixth in ERA with 3.22.
Boyd and her coaches credit her growth and success to her hard work over the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, during which she made many adjustments to her game with the help of the pitching staff.
“I developed more off-speed pitches and tightened my windup,” Boyd said.
Troyan said Boyd’s off-speed pitch combined with pinpoint accuracy makes her lethal on the mound.
Even with the improvements Boyd made, her players and coaches are confident she still has room to grow.
“She still has a lot to polish,” Troyan said. “She’s already an outstanding player. It’s kind of scary that her best days are still ahead of her.”
Sophomore infielder Lexi van Ooyen said Boyd never gives up on trying to improve her game both physically and mentally.
In addition to focusing on her growth as a pitcher, Boyd said her goal is for the team to find its momentum and keep winning.
“I think our biggest problem right now is that we are going out there expecting to win,” Boyd said. “It’s been more of a struggle than usual.”
With Boyd’s leadership on the mound and her determination for the team to succeed, the Mountain Hawks are anxious to finish out the last stretch of their regular season before the Patriot League Tournament begins May 10.
“Once we find a groove,” Boyd said, “I think the sky is the limit.”