Womens’ softball leaves Ripon scoreless

This past Sunday Morning, tragedy struck: When we got to the field, we found out our starting pitcher Emilia Jackson had fallen down the stairs and hurt her ankle, so she would not be able to play. This put some pressure on the other pitchers to perform and be on their A-game. Freshman Lizzie Angemi and Junior Shelby Johnson both stepped up to the challenge and surpassed the team’s expectations! On the mound, they both helped to pitch two shutouts! I asked them a few questions about the games: What were you thinking about while you were on the mound? Considering how you guys switched off: Did you feel a lot of pressure to maintain the shutout progress that the other pitcher has made or was that not even or your mind? How do you shut out the noise around you to focus on the task at hand, do you struggle with that, or what do you do to zone them out? Lizzie said: “Honestly, I didn’t feel a lot of pressure while pitching because I know that no matter what happened I tried my best and I know that my team did all that they could out there. I never really shut out all the noise around me because I love hearing my teammates’ encouragement. When it comes down to it, I’m always thinking positive thoughts even in tough situations, and I always know that my team will have my back.” Shelby then said: “When I’m on the mound, I try to focus on myself and Ceara (the catcher). That way, it’s just Ceara and I pitching and catching like normal. There’s less stress and pressure that way. However, I do feel pressure to keep runners off the bases. Especially when we are only 3 or 4 runs ahead of the other team later in the game, there is more pressure to limit hits and errors. When the game gets most stressful, it’s best to bait the batters into swinging at pitches that will pop up or be easily thrown out through grounders.”  

Next, I asked the softball pitchers what they think we did well in the second game that helped secure another shutout? Lizzie commented: “I think the energy from the first game definitely carried out into the next game. Although we didn’t score as much as we wished, we still had good energy and held a strong defense against Ripon. We definitely played to our level and kept it that way.” Shelby remarked: “In the second game, it seemed that Ripon was eager to swing away at all the pitches. That made it much easier for me to bait them into swinging at pitches outside the zone or balls that were moving in a way that led to a pop-up or ground out. I think they wanted to prove themselves, which made them get antsy in the box and made my job a bit easier. The first few innings most batters swing at the first or second pitch, which made for really fast outs and quick innings.”  

Reflecting upon how much time these pitchers have left at Lawrence I asked them what they still hoped to accomplish: Lizzie, as a first-year, what do you hope to accomplish with the Softball team for your remaining three years at Lawrence? What are you looking forward to? She said: “I look forward to the next three years of softball here at Lawrence and the friendships that I will form with my teammates. My main goal for softball is to just have fun with it. I know these are probably the last years I will get to play softball, so I might as well enjoy it.” Then I asked Shelby: As a junior, you have one more season left, what do you hope to accomplish and maintain during that time left? She responded by saying: “During my time on the LU softball team, my main goal has been supporting our success from any position. I am what is considered a utility player, which means that I can be moved to almost any position on the field. This makes it easier on the team and the coaches to fill in if there is an injury or change in the lineup. With the time that I have left on the team, I want to do my best to support the success of everyplayer by being supportive on and off the field. No matter what challenges the team will face, I want to be ready to help out wherever is needed.” 

For my last question, I asked them how they got into playing softball and what do they love about it? Were they always a pitcher, if not where did they use to play? Lizzie said: “I started playing tee-ball when I was five and continued playing softball ever since. I started pitching at an early age I think because it was just something that runs in my family. My brother was a pitcher and so was my sister, so it just came to me naturally. The best part about playing softball is all the people you get to meet and the friends you make.” Shelby said: “Ever since I was a toddler (and even today) I have always been very curious and wanted to try everything. My sisters were more focused on softball and volleyball from a young age and being the youngest sibling I always wanted to join in and play with my siblings, and gained a lot of softball experience from playing with them in our backyard. I honestly cannot remember how I started pitching. From the get-go, I have always been a utility player, so it just made sense to work on pitching as well. I think I’ve played at every position on the field with almost every team I’ve played on. Funny story: The first time I ever tried to play catch with a softball my sister tossed the ball and it hit me right on the top of my head. Every day after that I would play catch with a helmet on.” Shelby’s story helps to stress the importance of why it is so important for softball players to wear helmets, glad you figured that one out girl! Also, it’s normal for these athletes to also wear sunglasses so they don’t get blinded by the sun, and it’s very clear that Ripon left theirs at home last Sunday, or maybe it was just that our pitchers were too good, either way, they were clearly not on their A-game. #RiponGotRippedApart