The Lehigh softball team is beginning to feel more confident after experiencing some ups and downs at the start of its season.
The team (15-23, 5-7 Patriot League) opened its season with a challenging schedule. Early on, they faced top 25 teams Michigan, Arizona State and James Madison.
Coach Fran Troyan said he believes the team is getting back on track, particularly after a confidence boost from a win against league rival and defending Patriot League Champions Boston University.
“We’re very close to becoming the team that we thought we were going to be at the start of the season,” Troyan said. “We have been really challenged with the schedule that we’ve played. We’ve played a bunch of top 25 teams and are starting to become healthier. We’ve had injuries and those players are starting to get healthy.”
Troyan said two players have emerged as leaders during this season in junior Parker Boyd and junior Mary-Hannah Smith. He said Smith has played with a lot of passion and has done so this whole season.
Senior infielder Jenn Stoll said she believes the team has seen strong pitching from both Boyd and freshman Gabriella Nori. She also said freshman Jaelynn Chesson and Addie Kittel have stepped up to the plate in their first season with the team.
“Moving forward we know that we can beat anyone, we just have to be more consistent on offense and defense and put the two together,” Stoll said.
Troyan said the team should not be judged by its under .500 record.
“I think the communication and chemistry are awesome,” Stoll said. “We strive off of each other and feed off of our energy. We are all one close family.”
Junior catcher Emily Preble became one of the team’s most respected leaders and most experienced players this season. Preble said she believes this team is special, and nobody in the Patriot League is going to want to face it in the tournament.
“Right now we’re starting to figure out how we’re working as a unit,” Preble said. “We have a lot of potential and talent and lots of things that have yet to kick into full capacity. We’re learning how to fully engage with each other and get the pieces together. Once we figure it out, we’re gonna be a force to be reckoned with.”
Troyan agreed saying he believes there are going to be better days are ahead for the team and that the fun is about to begin. For the Mountain Hawks, they need to catch some breaks and put together a “complete game.”
Preble said the team is more focused on every pitch and how they approach it in the short term, which will only make them better suited for the rest of the season.
“It comes down to having those clutch moments in the moments that we need to be having them,” Preble said. “Softball is a sport of chance and failure. If you look at a batting average, batting .300 means you’re failing seven out of 10 times. We need to take advantage of the clutch moments, especially on the bases.”
Preble said she believes playing the two top teams in the Patriot League, Bucknell and Boston University, will improve Lehigh’s overall game and make them better prepared for the playoffs.
The first round of the Patriot League tournament is set for May 9.