Catcher and infielder Payton Alsobrooks, '21, concentrates on the field during the Patriot League Championship game against Boston University on May 10, 2019. The softball team was 8-9 when the season was canceled. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Softball expectations incomplete after season cut short


Lehigh’s softball season came to an end just 17 games into the year, with the team posting an 8-9 record as they prepared to head into conference play on March 21. Despite the sudden end to the season, the coaches and players reflected positively on the work the team accomplished. 

Head coach Fran Troyan was excited to share the achievements of his three senior captains this season, commenting on their expertise in the sport.

“Parker Boyd, Emily Preble and Mary-Hannah Smith were having tremendous seasons,” Troyan said. “Parker (Boyd) was pitching at an incredibly high level. Clearly, she had a chance to be a dominant force within the Patriot League. Emily (Preble) had made herself into the best defensive catcher in the Patriot League, and Mary-Hannah (Smith), who was named the Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year, was poised to perform at that level.”

Boyd was a standout player for the Mountain Hawks in their short season. Having played her final Patriot League game without advance warning, Boyd knew that, at the very least, she had worked incredibly hard throughout her career.

This past season, Boyd said her strong work and training ethic had ultimately paid off, going 6-5 in 11 appearances, with a 2.97 ERA as the team’s ace. She commented on her team’s ability to maintain a strong bond throughout the season.

“Although this season was cut short, I was happy with the limited performance I had,” Boyd said. “As captains, we put team chemistry at the forefront of our priorities. Although our season was short, our chemistry was strong. This team fought, whether we were up or down. Nobody was complacent.”

Troyan said he was thankful for the team’s strong leadership, and that he was able to keep players accountable and hard-working throughout the season. 

While the team was unable to compete deep into the season, Troyan expected that leadership to help propel the group.

“We expected to compete for a Patriot League Tournament Championship, and I know that we certainly had the ability to do so,” Troyan said. “We intend to compete for championships every year.”

The goal of competing for championships each season is not just one Troyan has, but one shared by the entire team as well.

Sophomore infielder Melissa Fedorka expressed her motivation to step on the field next season and work to achieve this goal.

“I guess all I can do now is prepare and train for next season to come back better than I am now and win the Patriot League Tournament to get the rings that the seniors deserved,” Fedorka said.

That preparation starts now, and the team will have to get creative as they train at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Fedorka discussed her routine to stay in shape and maintain her skill and high athletic potential.

“To stay in shape, I’ve been doing lots of runs and walks when it’s nice outside, and I mix in some yoga and core as well,” Fedorka said. “I have a tee and net at home so I can get some hitting reps in, and my dad is always more than willing to play catch with me.”

Although the team’s shortened season has caused many to be overwhelmed with emotion, Fedorka was able to reflect on the positive aspects of the season and the lifelong friendships that she made with the seniors.

For Fedorka and her underclassmen teammates, filling the holes of the seniors as teammates and in their production on the field is something that they all will have to work on as they look to 2021.

“I think the hardest part about realizing the season is over is the fact that I will never be able to play with the senior class again,” Fedorka said. “All five of the seniors were my and a lot of the team’s biggest role models and some of my best friends. Each one of them brought a different form of leadership to the team in both their actions and words.”

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