Carley Barjaktarovich kept her options open when she visited Lehigh for the first time.
Several schools were vying for her attention, but she had not yet decided where she wanted to sign. To aid her decision, Barjaktarovich made the 10-hour trek from Richmond, Michigan, to Bethlehem, where she spent the day immersed in the Lehigh softball program.
When she returned to her hotel that night, Barjaktarovich immediately looked at her dad and said only three words.
“This is it.”
Nearly two years later, Barjaktarovich knows that she made the right choice. A sophomore shortstop, Barjaktarovich has established herself as a dominant player for the Mountain Hawks. She started all 55 games during her freshman season while leading the team in assists and nabbing 13 stolen bases.
While her skill makes her one of the top players on the team, Barjaktarovich credits her composure and open-mindedness as the main key to her success.
“A lot of things are thrown at you when you get to college,” Barjaktarovich said. “Trying to find the positive, and learning and growing in every situation really allows me to succeed in whatever I’m doing.”
Barjaktarovich’s growth has allowed her achievements at Lehigh to extend beyond the infield, as well.
In addition to earning a spot on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll as a double major in marketing and management, she also contributes as a mentor in the student-athlete Flight 45 program, inspiring leadership within the Lehigh Athletics community.
Head coach Francis Troyan praised Barjaktarovich’s accomplishments, and said her passion and drive have made her a standout on and off the field.
“Carley (Barjaktarovich) is an incredible competitor,” Troyan said. “She is a high achiever, both academically and athletically. She demands an incredible amount of herself as a player… She’s a real powerful player. She really is the complete package.”
Troyan noted both Barjaktarovich’s knowledge of the game and impressive athleticism, describing how her blend of “speed, power and savvy” often forces rival teams to actively try to prevent her from getting on base.
Melissa Fedorka, a sophomore first baseman and catcher, also touched on Barjaktarovich’s athletic prowess. Fedorka described her teammate as having one of the strongest arms and smoothest transitions that she has seen.
Although she admires Barjaktarovich’s talent, Fedorka said she most respects Barjaktarovich’s enthusiasm and dedication in all facets of her life.
“She does everything with 100 percent and gives it her all,” Fedorka said. “As an athlete, as a student, she always wants to succeed and be better than she was the day before.”
For Barjaktarovich, the team’s “family atmosphere” was one of the main reasons why she chose to play for Lehigh. She said her teammates return her positivity when she feels down, and she said they have made Lehigh feel like a second home.
Barjaktarovich said her goal is to end the season with a Patriot League Championship. She’s looking forward to this season in particular because of the close connections that the team has formed.
“Last season’s team was great, but coming off of this fall season and this year, there is just something different about this team,” Barjaktarovich said. “There’s something really special about this group of girls. I’m just excited to finally go play on the dirt and get going with this special group that we have.”
Barjaktarovich and her teammates will kick off their season at the Citrus Blossom Tournament on Friday, Feb. 14, in Kissimmee, Florida.