Senior outfielder Emily Cimino stepped up to bat focused, calm and confident during Lehigh softball’s game against Alabama on Feb. 10.
Bases were loaded, and Cimino could feel the energy radiating from the dugout. Alabama pitched the ball, and she swung.
The ball carried down the third base line, passing the Alabama infielders and clearing the bases. After sprinting to second base, Cimino clapped as she looked toward the dugout. Then, it sank in: the seventh-ranked team in the nation now trailed Lehigh by three runs.
Cimino was a key contributor in Lehigh’s upset win against Alabama. She drilled a two-run home run to center field in the top of the fifth inning to tie the game at four and drove in three runs to secure the win.
Cimino said she expected a competitive game because she knew Lehigh was good enough to face the top-ranked team.
“I just wanted to play a good game and show them that we are a good team,” Cimino said. “I wanted to pick up where we left off last year.”
Cimino said seeing the team take a big leap late in the game is one of her favorite moments of her Lehigh career. She compared it to winning the 2022 Patriot League title.
As a team captain, Cimino said she tries to keep the atmosphere positive and relaxed to encourage the team to stay loose and play naturally.
“If we are all having fun, then we’re going to play better,” Cimino said.
Cimino has consistently been a top player at Lehigh with a career average of .353. She leads the team in on-base percentage, reaching base in half of her 24 plate appearances so far this season.
She attributes her success to the work she puts into hitting and her pitch selection, which gives her confidence at bat.
First-year infielder Lily Owens scored from first base on Cimino’s double against Alabama. She said she was confident Cimino would be successful when she stepped into the box for an important play of the game.
Owens looks up to Cimino and admires her work ethic. She said her poised, focused attitude exists on and off the field, which keeps her level-headed.
“She is so calm, cool and collected about everything that she celebrated for about a second and moved on,” Owens said. “I think the rest of us were just completely overjoyed with her success that we had to pull that emotion out of her to come celebrate with us.”
Senior outfielder Josie Charles also scored as a result of Cimino’s game-winning double. Charles said she and Cimino have become close throughout their time at Lehigh and are now roommates.
Cimino is always there for a clutch hit, Charles said, and she is consistently dependable.
“She is also just a good sound board for ideas, whether it’s about softball or just life,” Charles said.
Cimino followed her performance against Alabama with a double that drove in two runs against Georgia Southern the next day. The week after, Cimino tallied her second home run of the season in a 13-inning game against Georgetown.
Lehigh softball will continue their season on March 3 in Buies Creek, North Carolina, when they take on Furman.