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Womens’ softball: Senior Night in Lake Forest

This year the Vikings Played at home against Lake Forest for softball’s Senior night. The results ended in a split, with the Vikings winning the first game 5-3. Then the second game went an extra inning with both teams having scored 7 runs, but in the 8th inning, Lake Forest took the win. I asked each of the seniors of that night to reflect upon their softball journey. First, I asked them what their advice would be for incoming freshmen, and then next, I asked them what their favorite softball memory was. Here are their responses: 

#25 Emilia Jackson: “My words for incoming freshmen are to cherish every moment that their college softball career brings. Sometimes when you have a tough practice, at bat, or game, it’s easy to take softball for granted. But, your college career goes by so quickly, and you’ll miss it when it’s gone! Remember to live in every moment and leave it all on the field every time you step onto the dirt.” 

“My favorite softball memory happened just last weekend at our game against lake forest! Striking out the final batter to win the game and running to jump into my catcher’s arms for a huge hug!” 

#5 Amanda Karnatz: “My advice for any freshman would be to enjoy every moment. You don’t realize it when you start your first year, but time goes so fast, and all of a sudden, it will be over! Make the most of everything you do in lifts, practice and games. As long as you make the most of it, you will have the best time being a part of the team no matter what happens!” 

“There are so many memories that could be considered a favorite. One of my favorites was surprising Lake Forest and upsetting them my junior year. Lake Forest needed to sweep us to host the conference tournament, and they came into the game very cocky. We ended up slaughtering them in the first game 11-1 to ruin their chance at hosting the conference tournament.” 

#12 Kelli Quick: “I hadn’t played competitive softball since 7th grade, it’s been over 8 years, and I came in willing to learn or play whatever role was necessary for what the team needed to be successful.  What this proves is that success isn’t built on just years of practice, but requires passion and determination. You are the only one who can deter yourself, if you let yourself give into fear and doubt. Don’t let yourself be your biggest foe. Take a breath, smile and remember why you are playing the game in the first place.” 

“My favorite softball memory happened on Senior night with my first time ever sliding into home base. I started the inning off by hitting a single, and as I stepped on first base, I was tripped by Lake Forest’s first baseman’s foot, which sent me tumbling forward; I was still called safe. Time was called, and my head coach ran over to make sure I was okay. I was fine, but if anything, that incident just made me even more determined to score. The next batter was Amanda Karnatz, who ended up hitting me home. As I approached 3rd, the coach gave me the sign to steal home, and as I curved the base, I knew it would be close, so I sprinted home, dove head first and was able to slide into home base under the tag. It was the first time my parents have seen me play softball in years, and the joy of scoring, seeing your teammates cheer and feeling like you made an impact in the game is something I’ll cherish for a long time.” 

#14 Ceara Larson: “Talk to your coaches early! They are often great people with great advice, and if you engage with them right away they will know you are dedicated. Also, go to every team event. Your team will be your best friends and support group if you let them.” 

“Honestly, my favorite memory is one of the  last ones. Catching my pitcher’s change up for a strikeout to end the game and secure the win I will treasure forever.” 

I also asked the coach what her favorite memories were of the seniors and what she thought the team’s biggest strength was this season and something she wants to work on improving for next year’s season in 2022.  

Head Coach Cromer: “There are way too many memories to pick a favorite for each one, but what I appreciate the most about each one of the seniors is the legacy they will leave our program with.  This senior group embodies the word selfless.  Emilia and Amanda put their lives on hold to come back for an extra year. Ceara was always willing to come early and stay late to help others improve and Kelli was willing to come out for a sport she hadn’t played in a long time (and start hitting from the other side of the plate) just to make sure we had enough players to have a full season.  There is an album on the Lawrence University Softball Facebook page named SENIOR SMILES that is very special and shows the joy each one brought to the game.” 

“I think our team’s greatest strength this season was its resiliency.  We started off slow in the win/loss column, battled through injuries and some heartbreaking losses, to be playing some really good softball at the end of the year.  It is tough playing the same team 3 times in a season.  We never gave up and got better every day, which is all you can ask for as a coach.  I wish we would have had the other 16 games we would have played in a non-COVID-19 year to see what we could have done. We need to continue to improve and become more consistent in every aspect of the game.  We are going to be very young next year, but I am looking forward to hopefully having a “normal” season that allows us to practice right away in the fall, have a full non-conference and Florida schedule and simply to be able to meet in person to grow stronger together as a team.”