Lehigh softball sits in first place in the Patriot League with an overall record of 24-6 and a league record of 3-0. Their results on the pitching mound have been driving their success.
In the 2022 season, Lehigh’s softball pitching staff recorded an overall earned run average (ERA) of 4.25, ranking them fifth place out of the Patriot League’s seven teams for the category.
The team lowered its ERA to 2.15 this season — the lowest it has seen since 2015. ERA is calculated by taking the number of runs the team has allowed their opponent to score divided by seven, the number of innings in a game.
Head coach Fran Troyan said new team dynamics and the addition of first-year pitchers like Chloe Hess have led to their improvement on the mound.
Hess said the team’s collective improvement in play can be attributed to their defense’s hard work, which she said makes the pitchers on the field look better.
“We have arguably one of the best softball defenses in the Patriot League,” Hess said. “You could have a mid-level pitcher and the defense is going to make them look exceptional.”
Lehigh has committed the second least number of errors in the league this season and holds the second-highest fielding percentage.
Junior pitcher Katelyn Young said the team’s low ERA is the result of a mixture of great pitching and defense.
“Even though I am pitching well, I have a great defense behind me so that they are not giving up those runs,” Young said.
Compared to her style of play last year, Young said she has matured more as a person and a pitcher.
She said she recognized that when she would give up runs last year, she would “crumble” and become upset. However, this year, she has learned how to use bad plays as fuel to continue to push herself.
“I am in a better headspace, and much more focused than last year,” Young said. “I think this is the same for the rest of the pitchers.”
Hess said mental toughness plays a big role in her improvement, too. Since age four, Hess has played with girls older than her. She said these experiences forced her to develop her athletic ability and mental strength at an early age.
Troyan said the team has worked hard in the offseason to prepare for this spring. The pitchers have spent more time with pitching coach Pattie Ruth Taylor to further refine their skills.
Although he’s noticed improvement in all the pitchers, Troyan said he’s particularly impressed with sophomore Maria Urban, Young and Hess, who embody a growth mindset.
“Katelyn Young is a great leader for the younger pitchers,” Troyan said. “Maria Urban, as a sophomore, is building on the experience she had in her first year and becoming more confident. Hess is a talented freshman and throws the ball really, really well.”
Troyan said there are still areas where the team can improve, such as base running. He said the team gets “a wee little bit better every day.”
Lehigh continues Patriot League play on April 1 in a three-game series against Bucknell at home.