The Loras College softball team is losing five key senior players and leaders from their roster: Ashley Lentine, Lauren Fritz, Bayley Monroe, Melanie Gerbig, and Shanon Coyle. All five seniors were valuable parts of Team 44’s lineup, whether that was as a designated hitter, a catcher, a pitcher, or an infielder. They are leaving very big shoes to fill and the program will not be the same without them. These seniors gave 110% on and off the field, in and out of season. They had great visions of what they wanted their senior season to be, and their role in it as a class. Catcher Gerbig said,
“The role of a senior on a team is usually leader or captain. This year the seniors didn’t want those titles solely for ourselves. We wanted a team where everyone can feel comfortable leading and speaking up whether they were a freshman or a senior. The most important role of the seniors on the team this year was to share the knowledge we have of the game and of the Duhawk softball culture.”
Even with all of those visions, this year fell short of expectations for the Duhawk softball team, but they learned some valuable lessons in order to help prepare for next year’s conference play. The team ended the season with an overall record of 10-27-1. The Duhawks finished their season with a double header battle against the Wartburg Knights. Going in, the Duhawks knew this was going to be their last game of the season, and for the seniors, the last game of their career. Catcher Fritz said,
“Going into the last game, I didn’t want to do anything different. I just wanted to have fun. I was very conscious stepping into the box that it was my last at bat and even stepping off of the field, but I didn’t want to try to do anything out of the ordinary because then it wouldn’t be genuine. It was a little bit harder than usual to take my gear off at the end.”
The seniors definitely showed up to play, with big hits from Lentine, Fritz, and Coyle throughout the day. The Knights ended up taking both games, but the Duhawks did not give up without a fight. The second game went into extra innings, with the Knights winning with a walk off single, making the score 7-6. Looking ahead, Coach Ashley Winter is feeling motivated and determined to get better. The Duhawks are looking forward to welcoming one of the largest incoming classes in program history.
The season might not have ended the way anyone would have hoped, but the seniors are still grateful for what the program has given to them. Monroe talks about going into retirement,
“Being a retired athlete means I’m not given the opportunity to be a part of the softball family here at Loras anymore. It does mean however, that I am a part of a new Loras family, as an alumni. Playing softball at Loras has given me so many amazing memories, as well as some not so good ones that I was able to grow and learn from. Being a part of this program has definitely kept me busy over the last four years, but I am so grateful I was able to play the sport I love at the institution I love. I might be done with my softball career, but I will always be a Duhawk, and will keep the friendships that I have made here forever.”
As a class, the seniors had to step up as leaders and help their underclassmen build, and prepare for next season. Coach Winter said,
“Every time we remember this senior class we will think of them and smile. We appreciate the memories, growth, and the impact they have left behind both on and off the field. I am excited to see what the senior class will accomplish in their life after Loras.”
The program would like to thank their seniors for everything they have sacrificed and given to the Duhawk softball team over the last four years.