Lehigh softball first-year Peyton Sward poses during a media day shoot on Feb. 29, 2024, at the Smith Center. The softball team played their season opener on Feb. 9, 2024, in Tulsa. (Holly Fasching / B&W Staff)

Lehigh softball first-year doesn’t stop short


Lehigh softball first-year shortstop Peyton Sward had an impressive start to her college career in the opening games of the season, earning herself Patriot League Rookie of the Week in the process. 

She went 8 for 9 at the plate in four games at the Aggie Classic on Feb. 9 and 10 in College Station, Texas, against The University of Tulsa, Valparaiso University and No. 17 Texas A&M.

The New Jersey native started all four games and added a double, triple and stolen base to the stat sheet. 

Sward also drove in an RBI and scored three runs during a 2-2 weekend for the Mountain Hawks, with both wins coming against Valparaiso. 

Seven games into the season, Sward leads all Lehigh hitters with 10 hits and 13 total bases. 

Despite only being a first-year, Sward has made herself a valuable asset to the team, and her immediate impact has not gone unnoticed. 

After she won a four-way position battle to be named starting shortstop, senior pitcher Katelyn Young noted how valuable Sward is going into the season. 

“Peyton is so important to this team because of how fast she is and her fielding capabilities,” Young said. “She came into a very important position as a freshman and really capitalized on her opportunities. We knew shortstop was going to be hard to replace this year without Carley Barjaktarovich, but Peyton performed very well there in the fall as well as the start of the spring.” 

Now a starter for one of the nation’s most consistent programs, and playing in Southeastern Conference stadiums to start her collegiate career, Sward said it feels like a dream come true. 

Sward grew up in Florham Park, New Jersey, and started playing softball in kindergarten. She also played soccer and ran track in high school, but softball always came first. 

“My high school and club softball teams were very important to me,” Sward said. “My high school team had the same group of girls I grew up playing with since the fourth grade, and we ended up winning states my junior year, so it was a really fun experience.”

During the college recruitment process, Sward always knew Lehigh was the school for her. Her uncle graduated from Lehigh’s class of ‘92, so she had a strong idea of what Lehigh had to offer. 

Coach Fran Troyan said Sward has a combination of work ethic and talent, mixed with her unrelenting, positive attitude.

“I saw her play a number of times, she is really athletic, really fast and has really good skills,” Troyan said. “But when I got to meet her, there were some intangibles, in terms of self-confidence, that we just loved. That put us over the edge to really move her in the direction as a softball student-athlete.”

Troyan also complimented Sward’s communication skills and personality. 

“Peyton has a great sense of humor and has the ability to communicate well with other teams as well as adults and our coaches,” Troyan said. “I think her ability to communicate is probably instilled by her parents, and that’s something that will serve her well, at Lehigh and beyond.” 

Sward has been an impactful member, influencing the dynamic of the team in her young career. 

First-year outfielder Gracie Smith said Sward is making meaningful connections with her teammates.

“She’s a very outgoing person. She always talks to everyone and makes sure teammates feel included,” Smith said. “I think Peyton is going to become a true leader over the years and she’s starting off great now.” 

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

1 Comment

Leave A Reply