In each play, the center fielder can see the ball, all of the positions, the runner, and the fans. Even more so, the player in this position has a clear view of her teammates and the season. This year in center field, I saw growth, friendship, and support among the varsity softball team.
On the pitcher’s mound, I saw Carolyn Zaccaro ’14 throw her best season yet. I watched her strike out countless batters, including some of the best in the league. But more than her skill blossoming on the field, I could see her ability to deal with high pressure solidify with each game. This year’s Varsity softball season boasts a 11 win record, 6 of which were one-run victories. These games brought the tension on the field and off to a new peak, yet Carolyn stepped up game after game with a cool head and a perfect windmill motion, helping us earn the last out and walk off the field like champions.
Just behind her, I saw our Marias, Gelabert ’14 and Roussos ’15, guard the plate. I watched them bring a new level of focus and determination to the game, always ready to throw out a runner stealing a base or dive for a bunt down lingering near home plate. They, as catchers, are the foundation of the team’s defense, and I saw their fearlessness, their heart, and their passion for the game and their teammates.
At third base and around the base path, I watched Claire Kristof ’15 grow into the definition of an all-or-nothing athlete. She dove for pop flies, ran into fences, jumped over catchers, slid into bases, slid back to bases, and slid through bases, always magically landing safely. She ripped the ball at every at bat but her impressive batting statistics cannot capture her inspiring, dedicated mindset about the game. Her energy became contagious and her plays were often the highlights of each game. Claire’s memorable plays and pep-talks will go down in history, and I witnessed them from the start.
From just behind short stop, I saw ShaVonne Higgins ’14 gracefully enter the role of co-captain and become a leader that will leave a lasting impression on the softball program when she graduates next year. Offensively, she took every at-bat as an opportunity to be an example for new players. She watched the coaches for signs, paid attention to every pitch, knocked in several home runs as well as countless triples and doubles, and ran home with agility as well as confidence. She also kept her team informed and energetic in the dugout and between innings as she reminded them how much they wanted to win and how able they were to do so.
On the other side of the field, at first and second bases, I saw confidence build and skills develop. First and second year players Rachel Magnin ’15, Ali Kiley ’16, Sarah Boehm ’16, and Allie Simon ’15 often alternated in these positions, some for the first time ever. When the initial nerves had settled, I could see them grow into their responsibilities on the field. Allie Simon caught multiple pop flies, Sarah Boehm learned to stretch at first base, Rachel Magnin mastered the cut-off throw to third base from right field, and Ali Kiley covers second on steals like a pro, letting the opposition know to watch out. Brilliant bunts, beautiful slides, and unbelievable catches show that these girls, in both confidence and skill, became true ballplayers.
And of course, to my right and left, I saw our outfielders, Tara DiMaio (’14), Sophie Frank (’15), Ali Kiley, and Allie Simon dive into their new roles, ready for every challenge. Sky high pop flies, lightening fast line drives, and ground balls with rogue bounces never seemed to scare them. Over the course of the season, they became an integral part of every play as the playmakers or the backup. They learned the dynamics of the game from the unique perspective of an outfielder. Their willingness to dive after any ball and reach for any play inspired the rest of the team.
From center field, I can see my team. I can see the proof of our successes in real memories, real players, and real friends. I witnessed us making history with a division 5 Alpha League playoff qualification and an impressive 11 win 11 loss overall records. I saw our fans support us in intense heat, bitter cold, and turbulent winds.
In center field, through my inspirational teammates and coaches, I saw passion, confidence, and enthusiasm one cannot see anywhere else.
Featured Image: Archer Athletics