Lehigh softball first years Peyton Sward and Holly Lovett high five each other in the Mountain Hawks dual against Colgate on Sunday March 24 at Leadership Park. Lehigh defeated Colgate 5-3. (Max Brodsky/ B&W Staff)

Lehigh softball first-years contribute to successful Patriot League start


Contributing to four wins in their last five games, three softball first-years have been mainstays in the starting lineup for the Lehigh Mountain Hawks this season.

Filling the left side of the infield, third baseman Holly Lovett and shortstop Peyton Sward each had hits in the Mountain Hawks doubleheader sweep of Colgate on Sunday.

Sward (1-for-2) scored a run in a 10-5 Game 1 victory. Lovett (1-for-3) drove in two with a single in her first at bat of Game 2. Lehigh won that contest, 5-3.

Lovett, the reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Week, has seven hits in her last five games after starting the season with just two hits in her first 10.

Lehigh first-year Holly Lovett singles in two runs against during the Mountain Hawks win over Colgate in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday, March 24, 2024, at Leadership Park. Lehigh won Game 2, 5-3. (Max Brodsky/ B&W Staff)

“I think I’ve gained a lot of grit and toughness,” Lovett said. “I came in as a freshman injured, which is a whole different animal, but you grow as a person and find ways to dig deeper, work harder and be tough.”

Standing alongside her in the infield is Sward, who carries a team-leading .419 batting average, which is also good for fifth in the Patriot League. Sward won rookie of the week honors thanks to an 8-for-9 weekend to start the season.

The infield pair also make their mark on defense. They helped the Hawks out of a jam in Game 2, collaborating with first baseman Rory Dudley on a double play in the fourth inning.

Playing at shortstop, Sward is filling the hole left by Carley Barjaktarovich ‘22, who after playing a fifth year in 2023 finished her Lehigh career with a program-record 265 hits. 

“It’s unfair for us to expect Peyton to be Carley because Carley was one of the best players that we had all time,” Lehigh coach Fran Troyan said. “But Peyton has the ability to be an outstanding player for us. She is such a learner.”

First-year outfielder Gracie Smith has recently slotted near the top of the batting order as a designated player during most games. Smith picked up three hits against Colgate on Sunday.

Lehigh sophomore Crysta Duenas high fives her coach after scoring a run along with first-year Gracie Smith (28) during the Mountain Hawks win over Colgate in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday, March 24, 2024, at Leadership Park. Lehigh won Game 2, 5-3. (Max Brodsky/B&W Staff)

“We really feel like Gracie can get a hit at any at bat,” Troyan said.

As the first-years have been producing, the team as a whole has been able to recover from an 8-13 start – more losses than their entire regular season in 2023.

Troyan commented on the trio’s versatility at the plate, noting that all three first-years can contribute from any spot in the batting order.

“We’re very, very lucky to have Peyton, Holly and Gracie,” Troyan said. “We can utilize them at any point in time, and we love the fact that they love to compete.”

Lehigh wraps up their series against Colgate 1 p.m. Monday at Leadership Park.

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