First-year infielder Lily Owens throws a softball at the Mountain Hawks game against Georgia Southern on Feb. 11, 2023. The Mountain Hawks beat the Eagles 4-3 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Courtesy of Jason Homan)

Second-generation college softball infielder starts strong


Following in the footsteps of her mother, second-generation college softball infielder Lily Owens is off to a strong start at Lehigh.

The first-year is hitting .291 for the Mountain Hawks with six home runs and 14 runs batted in through 33 games, all of which she has started in.

Owens said she owes her success as a Mountain Hawk to her mom’s efforts as a single parent. She said she has always worked extra hard in the likeness of her mother — someone she considers “her world.”

“She’s been by herself, but she’s provided a private school education for my brother and me that had training programs for sports,” Owens said. “She put us in the best neighborhoods to live in, hired the best tutors, and she did it all by herself.”

Owens grew up in Chino Hills, California, with a younger brother, who she said helped her develop a love for sports, as they played together growing up.

Owens’ mom, who played softball at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, is a major reason she started playing softball. She said her mom made her realize she had a gift for the game.

“The more I played in high school, the more I realized I could really go somewhere with it,” Owens said.

Although her passion for softball was intensifying, Owens’ high school playing career was filled with hurdles following her freshman year.  

Owens’ sophomore year was the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; her junior year, she tore a muscle that sidelined her for a majority of the season; and her senior year, she decided to run track — something she wanted to do one last time before dedicating her college career to softball.

Although she suffered a major injury during her junior year, she still managed to draw the interest of colleges with her play. During one of her first tournaments back from injury, Lehigh assistant coach Pattie Ruth Taylor was watching. She said she was impressed by Owens’ play.

“She is a lover of the game and everything else she does in life,” Taylor said. “Her athletic ability is truly unmatched.” 

After the game, Taylor asked Owens if she was interested in playing softball at Lehigh. After weighing several college offers, Owens decided to become a Mountain Hawk.

For Owens, an academic foundation was essential to her college decision-making process. She said she chose Lehigh because of its academic rigor — something that was important to her because of the limited opportunities female athletes receive post graduation.

While focusing on her academics, Owens has still been able to dominate on the field, winning two Patriot League Rookie of the Week awards. 

She has garnered high praise from her coaches. Head coach Fran Troyan said he sees a bright future for Owens as she continues to grow as a player and person.

“She is a driven athlete and a true competitor,” Troyan said. “The awesome part is while she is an outstanding player already, she is on her way to becoming even better as she continues to gain experience.”

Owens said she looks to achieve more success this season. Off the field, she is pursuing a degree in political science with hopes of becoming a lawyer. 

Lehigh softball will be back in action on April 5 when they face Princeton in an away game.

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