Inside the Dugout with Villanova Softball
April 2, 2014
Kate Poppe - Sophomore Pitcher
Hey NovaNationers! I'm Kate Poppe, a sophomore pitcher for #VUSB. I'm a Marketing major from Downingtown, Pa. I'm a fourth generation Wildcat who always dreamed of playing softball for Villanova.
In high school, when I would tell people I wanted to play Division 1 softball, they warned me about how hard it would be. My response would always be "I know but I can handle it." After a year and half of balancing school, softball, sleep and friends, I have realized how difficult it can be to have so much going on. I have also realized that I wouldn't want it any other way. It can be tough to push through 8:30 classes, 4-hour practices, and tiring lifting and conditioning, but I know that I am living out my dream and many others' dreams every day. Sacrifices and hard work for my #VUSB family and for the game that has been there for me my whole life is worth every moment I spend with my girls and every time I step on the mound.
The best part about Villanova Softball is the lifelong friends I have made. Yes, I love the game and I can't imagine life without it, but one day it will end (or so people tell me, I'm still in denial). But with or without the game, I know I have my coaches and these girls for the rest of my life. The bond I have with every girl is unbreakable and I am so glad to have them in my life. They are here for me through thick and thin and they know I would do anything for them. This is why we really love the game, because win or lose we are in it together and it's the memories we make that are going to stick with us.
With this season, our theme is that we are in it together, and together we are stronger than anything thrown at us. We are going to continue to give "one more" or two or three more if that's what it takes to win. Hard work beats talent and we will work harder than our competition. We are out there every day trying to get better for each other at practice, in the weight room and at game time. We will learn and grow and be better with every game we play. Halfway through the season, we are still determined to give our all every day. We just need to give every game 110%. I know #VUSB has what it takes to reach the high expectations we set. I want to win BIG EAST and I know the girls do too. We're ready to give whatever it takes to get there. Every lift. Every practice. Every game. Shock the BIG EAST. One more.
Feb. 18, 2014
Sarah Dnistrian - Freshman 1B/3B
Hey Nova Nation! My name is Sarah Dnistrian and I'm a freshman first baseman for the Villanova Softball Team. I'm from Colts Neck, N.J. and currently enrolled in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It's always been my dream to attend Villanova University and to play softball for the Wildcats is just icing on the cake.
After getting through a whole semester, I can honestly say I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life (next to the day I committed to Villanova of course). I've come to master how to balance school, softball, sleeping and having a social life. I feel as though I can take on anything. Being away at school, I have gained a stronger sense of who I am as a person and what I'm capable of and I have softball to thank for most of that.
Throughout my life, I have learned many great lessons from sports -- how to be a team player, how to work hard, how to achieve a goal and how to be dedicated and loyal. I knew all those things coming into college but I never really realized how much they mattered until being on the Villanova Softball Team.
During the fall and throughout this winter, I have pushed myself harder than I ever have before. But I'm not only pushing myself for my own benefit, I'm pushing myself for my teammates who surround me. Anything that I can do to make myself better will only help my team in the long run.
This season, we have a theme; we call it "one more." One more means that any drill that we do, weight we lift or sprint we run, we're going to do one more. Why? After doing a ton of sprints, can you really push your body to do more? Our answer to that question is yes. Yes, we CAN do one more...because it's about mental strength, not just physical strength. By doing one more, we're doing more than our competition. This gives us an edge on our competitors and makes us that much better than them. Our coaches have really inspired us to believe in our talent and believe that we can achieve all our goals. There's no reason why we can't make it to the NCAA Women's Softball Championship. And you better believe we're all going to fight with everything we have to get there.
I think it's going to be a great season. We've all been working so incredibly hard and pushing ourselves to do one more of everything we do. We can't wait to get outside and own every single field we step onto. We're going to shock a lot of people this year. We are a group of very talented and skilled players. Our chemistry on and off the field is going to result in massive amounts of success for us. But most importantly, we have learned some of the most important things in life. The game has shaped us into the women we are today, and our coaches have been great role models for us. I can only hope that we can give them half as much as they have given us.
I can't wait for the season to start so I can play the game I love with the people I love. I'm so blessed to have this amazing opportunity. Go Cats!!!
Jan. 29, 2014
Elise Alvarado - Junior OF
What's up Nova Nation!!! My name is Elise Alvarado and I am a junior right fielder for the Villanova softball team. I'm from Tucson, Arizona and am majoring criminology with a minor in sociology. My lifelong dream is to become a police officer after I graduate, so I guess you can call me a little crazy. Hmm...some other crazy things about me? My ice has to be floating in all of my drinks, my locker must always be set to zero, and I don't like people touching my collar bone. What does any of this have to do with Villanova softball? Well, pretty much everything. I guarantee you I can relate Villanova softball to all my craziness.
Let's start with the ice. Like the ice in my drink, my team and I won't stop until we make our way to the top. Whether it is in practice, a game or in the weight room, we help push each other to be one step above where we were the day before. We have been working hard at getting stronger both physically and mentally. And with a full schedule of practice and a full schedule of games on the way, we aren't letting anything hold us down. Win or lose, we are definitely going to be the strongest family out there. There will be no sinking this season and nothing to weigh us down.
Moving on...I have OCD when it comes to my locker. Whenever I lock any of my lockers whether it is for school or for softball, I always reset it to zero. For me, this mind set carries over onto the field in between every inning my team plays. This season @VUSoftball will play every inning like it's a tied ballgame with a 0-0 score. Whether we are winning or losing, playing with this mentality will help us maintain our intensity throughout the entire game from beginning to end. By resetting the score back to zero after every play we will always shoot for one more run to help give us that "W".
As for the whole "not wanting people to touch my collar bone", my team doesn't want anyone touching our field. Once we step over the chalk, we want the world to know the field belongs to us. This season we are going to play for the name on the front of our jerseys, not the number on our backs. All the talent in the world won't take you anywhere without your teammates. We are one team, with one goal and we will work together to protect our house.
All jokes and craziness aside, this season is really going to be a blast! I can't wait to play beside my teammates and to make our seniors proud one last time. Please come out and support us this season! You won't regret it. Go Cats!
Jan. 16, 2014
Stephanie Butler - Sophomore UT
Hello Nova Nation and Villanova softball fans! My name is Stephanie Butler and I am a sophomore middle infielder from Barnegat, New Jersey. I am currently in the Business School and majoring in Marketing and MIS (Management Information Systems).
Choosing Villanova University and becoming a Wildcat was truly the best decision I have ever made. Not only is the caliber of my education phenomenal, but my experience as a student-athlete is exceptional! Living on campus and seeing the benefits of this beautiful university will forever remain a highlight of my experience. Balancing a full time schedule of classes, softball practices, and lifting and conditioning seems intimidating, but when you are with 24 of your closest friends you look forward to all of the hours of work.
It's scary to think that half of my college career is almost over. Freshman year ended in a blink of an eye and this past fall semester went by just as quickly. At the end of a long and stressful finals week, I was looking forward to winter break and being at home relaxing, watching television, shopping, and spending time with my friends and family. I enjoyed every moment of my break while keeping my other family, my "Nova Family," in my thoughts. I was hoping my coaches and teammates were enjoying their holiday break as much as I was. As break progressed, I kept anticipating my arrival back on campus to start a new semester of classes and being back to softball. I couldn't wait to get back to school and start practicing for this season. Villanova Softball worked hard on and off the field in the fall, and I can't wait for us to continue to improve each and every day leading up to our first game.
We are all so excited to kick off the season in Florida against Harvard in less than 38 days in the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament. For some, it's returning to their home state, while for others, it's a chance to play ball in gorgeous weather. The following weekend, Villanova Softball will be flying back to Florida to compete in the Under Armor Tournament that takes place during our spring break. Both tournaments have great competition and we are ready to show everyone what Villanova Softball is all about.
I see this season as being one of the best ones yet. With the addition of Butler and Creighton to the BIG EAST the competition will be tough but we will strive to be one of the leaders in the conference. This spring our team will be spending every waking moment with each other and no matter what, we will be supporting, encouraging, and challenging each other on and off the field. Villanova Softball takes pride in everything we do, wherever we are. As an individual or collectively as a team we are confident, strong, and ready to rock this spring season!! Not only will Villanova Softball shock their opponents this season, we will be establishing new traditions. Pushing ourselves and doing a little more each day will get Villanova Softball to the top and that's what we intend on doing.
I encourage Villanova Softball fans and the rest of Nova Nation to check out our home games this spring at our field located on campus next to Pike Lot. Follow our newest social media outlets, twitter: @VUSoftball and Instagram: @novasoftball, to get to know Villanova Softball. See updates, photos and follow our progress throughout the season! GO CATS!
Dec. 9, 2013
Kaitz Sitzman - Senior P
Hey, Villanova softball fans! My name is Kaity Sitzman and I am a senior pitcher and co-captain of the Villanova softball team. I am from Tucson, Ariz. and I am a Communications major with a focus in Journalism.
It is hard to believe that my senior year is already half way over. Anything I say about how quickly time has passed would seem cliché, but it is the honest truth. I remember my freshman year like it was yesterday and I don't think I have really come to terms with the fact that I am actually a senior. Over the past three and a half years, I have had so many wonderful experiences. I have grown as a person in so many ways. I was so nervous about travelling to the East Coast as a freshman, but I am proud to say that Villanova has truly become a home for me. I have met my very best friends right here on the softball team. My three roommates and fellow seniors have become more than friends to me; they are my sisters. They know me better than I know myself and they have made my time here amazing. Ali Lowe, Danielle Lewandowski, and Alyssa Lodato are three of the most talented, caring, hilarious and intelligent people I have ever met. Villanova softball would not be the same without them.
But it is not just the senior class that has a strong bond. Our team is a family that supports, encourages, and challenges each other on and off the team. Our bond is a quality that sets us apart from many other teams and I believe that it makes us stronger. We have all worked so hard this semester and I know that we will work even harder next semester to prepare for our season. We have been lifting and running and everyone has been making a lot of progress. I believe that every time we step on the field or go to the gym our passion and drive can be felt. Every single girl on this team is a competitor. I know that if we continue to work hard we can accomplish anything.
I am so excited to find out what my next and final semester here will bring me. It is sad to think that I will play my final season of softball, but I am glad that I will be doing it here at Villanova. Softball has been a major part of my life for the past 12 years and I know it will be hard to say goodbye. Being on the field and a part of a team has brought me so much happiness. Softball has taken me all over the country and I have had experiences that many have only dreamed of. I feel so blessed in so many ways.
I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about the upcoming season. I know Villanova softball is going to do great things and I hope you will all continue to follow and support us like you have over the years.
Nov. 18, 2013
Lauren Herschberg - Freshman 1B/3B
Hi, my name is Lauren Herschberg and I am a freshman first baseman at Villanova. Before arriving on campus, I played travel ball for OC Elite under coach Greg Esteban. I couldn't wait to finally go off to college and was really excited to meet my team and get to live on my own for the first time. I wasn't sure what college would be like or how softball would be as an incoming freshman but being the person I am, that just excited me even more. Everyone at home kept telling me how college is the best time of your life so I had huge expectations coming into my freshman year and it has not disappointed. This year has been amazing so far and has definitely exceeded every one of my expectations.
Freshman orientation was an especially great experience and a very helpful four day event. We learned how everything at the school works from the perspective of other students which was awesome because they taught us all the secrets and tricks around campus (mostly involving food). They had us play games to help meet new people and make friends, which I loved because moving across the country also meant that I had no friends going to the same school as me.
Everyone on campus, especially our team, has been very welcoming to all of the freshmen. There are a lot of events during the first few months of school to help you meet new people and make friends who have some of the same interests as you. Since our team is so close, the older players planned a lot of fun events to get us to bond and learn more about each other. On the first night that the older girls moved into their rooms, they invited us all over to hang out and get to know one another. I immediately felt welcomed onto the team because everyone was so friendly. We also went to Kera's house in Jersey one of the first weekends we were at school. That was one of the most fun weekends of my life and a great way to really get close to all of the girls on the team. I know everyone had a great time and it really brought us together.
For me, the transition both across the country and into college has been surprisingly smooth. At first, I wasn't sure how hard it would be to move away from all of my family and friends, but the softball team has become my new family and I've made a lot of new friends here. Being out on my own for the first time has been really fun. And it's great to know that I have the support of the team any time I need it. Academically speaking, college hasn't been that much harder than high school, there's just a lot more papers to write!
Softball as a freshman is a great new experience. It's a step up from travel ball and really makes you push your game to the limits. It's a lot of extra work and includes more conditioning and lifting, but it's all worth it to make you better. Every little bit of extra work you can do will just put you that much more ahead of all the other girls. There are a lot of new people to compete with in college both at other schools and within your own team. You really have to fight for your spot on the team and put in all the extra work you can. It's not an easy task, but definitely doable if you're willing to put in the work. With the combined efforts of my teammates and coaches, I can already feel myself improving and can't wait for my first spring season as a college softball player. I have a great feeling about our team this year and I'm sure we'll go far!
Oct. 28, 2013
Danielle Lewandowski - Senior Outfielder
Hi everyone, my name is Danielle Lewandowski and I'm a senior captain for Villanova Softball. I am in the Business School here at Nova, double majoring in Management Information Systems and Economics while minoring in Business Analytics. Currently, I am studying in London at the University of Westminster. I am taking two international economics classes and two computer sciences classes. I only have classes three days a week so that leaves lots of room for travelling! It is weird having all this free time since at home I barely have enough time to sleep. So far I have been to Poland, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, Wales, Scotland, France and Spain with more trips planned! Needless to say, it gets pretty exhausting so I'm glad to be back in London for at least a couple weeks. It's kind of cool meeting, living, and studying alongside people for everywhere around the world. For example, I have flat-mates from Berlin and Tokyo and a few good friends from Paris. It definitely gives me a different outlook on life but never have I been more proud to be American!
I am having the time of my life here on the other side of the Atlantic; however I was honestly not expecting to miss everything at Villanova so much, from playing beach volleyball on West Campus to eating dinner at the Pit to four hour practices in Butler. But even more than that, I miss my team. I miss being with them every waking second, even if it is just driving in a crowded, hot van to all of our fall games. Sometimes I feel silly for wishing I was in Philly with them since I am in Europe for a semester and not many people get this amazing opportunity to study overseas, especially Division 1 athletes. I guess that Villanova Softball is such a big part of my life and now it is just missing (temporarily!). I miss having my group of girls that I can always rely on and trust no matter what. Having that guarantee that at least one person would want to go out to dinner with you or just hang out and watch a movie at any given time. I took that for granted before but I realize now how great we actually have it on VUSB. It is a huge adjustment and I doubt it will get any easier since my time here is about half way over, with me returning home to Chicago on Christmas Eve.
Luckily, I don't have to miss it much longer since January will be here in a blink of an eye, since time seems to be moving faster and faster these days. I still talk to everyone quite often but it is completely different when you're not actually there going through the same things as they are. You don't realize how many great things our team has going for it until you're gone. Thankfully, I got the chance to realize this before I graduated so I can appreciate my last semester even more.
All the reports I have received back are positive. It seems we have a good group of girls this year that are willing to work hard. With graduating four starters last year, we have some space to fill, but the underclassmen really seem to be stepping up. I've gotten the honor to meet most of the freshman via Skype and I can already tell that we're in for a fun (and interesting) spring! I've gotten a few reports about who had a good game, who pitched well, who hit a home run, etc. but more than that, I keep hearing how well we get along, which is awesome! It is always more enjoyable to be on a team where everyone is friends than on a team where everyone just tolerates one another. However, I'm sure this could be distracting. There are going to be times when we need to be concentrating on practice, but we want to talk about the latest gossip or what our dinner plans are. It is going to be something that we need to focus on and be aware of; there are times to goof and joke around and times to work hard and practice.
I have complete faith in our team because I know that we all want something more. We don't want to just show up at our games come February and look pretty. We want to win. I think we have finally realized that working hard now, in the off season, enables that to happen. If we focus on the little things in November and December, we can concentrate on the big things after Christmas. Additionally, we decided that this year, we are going to play for each other. Not for ourselves. We play for Villanova University. With the changes in the Big East, I know we are all excited to take on the new challenges ahead of us. We get to play teams that we have never played and travel to places we have never travelled. Essentially, it is perfect timing for a new start. New conference! New team! New mentality! I know fellow seniors, Ali Lowe and Kaity Sitzman, and myself are ready to win. Thankfully, we have twenty-two other girls alongside us that want the same thing. Together, I know we can accomplish what we have set out to do.
Oct. 8, 2013
Ali Lowe - Senior Shortstop
The first blog was composed by senior shortstop, Ali Lowe (West Palm Beach, Fla.), a Communications Major with an emphasis in Media Production.
Villanova Softball had an overall successful fall season in terms of development. The team went 3-4-1 in their eight fall games with some tough battles against Lehigh and Delaware. After graduating five seniors last year and adding eight freshmen this year, there has definitely been a learning curve over the past few weeks. With three quarters of the team being freshmen and sophomores, the upperclassmen definitely have their hands full accepting various leadership roles. As one of our teams' captains alongside Kaity Sitzman and Danielle Lewandowski, I have really enjoyed watching my teammate's progress since the beginning of the year. The whole team has come far since we started practicing after Labor Day. As for the freshmen, we are proud of how they have transitioned to the D1 student-athlete lifestyle. Traveling far from home to attend college is never easy and our freshmen have been adjusting really well. I do have to say this is partially because we have created a strong family culture for our team. A good way to stay successful on the field is to build and maintain friendships with your teammates off the field.
Over Labor Day weekend, the majority of our team took a trip to New Jersey and stayed at Kera Pezzuti's house. The weekend was filled with numerous team-bonding activities such as beach volleyball, paddle boarding at the lake, hiking, grilling BBQ and laying poolside at the house. This was a great start to the school year, as we had not begun softball practices yet. It was an opportunity for the freshmen to understand the family aspect of our team and for everyone to become well acquainted with each other.
As the season started after the weekend, we fell back into our normal routine. The Villanova Softball week is as follows: Monday - Lifting and Conditioning at 4:30pm Tuesday - Practice at 1:30pm Wednesday - OFF day Thursday - Practice at 2:00pm; Lifting at 5:00pm Friday - Conditioning at 1:30pm; Practice at 3:00pm Saturday - Practice at 9:00am Sunday - Practice at 9:00am
If you couldn't already tell, this alone seems like a full schedule. Add going to school full-time on top of that and you just might begin to understand the extreme time commitment of a D1 athlete. But this is the sacrifice we are all willing to make to extend our time playing the game we love. We were able to get three full weeks of practice under our belts before taking on Lehigh, our first opponents of the fall season. They unfortunately took both games of the double header from us but we went down fighting. The next day, we travelled down to Delaware to face the Blue Hens and Kutztown. After a tough back and forth game with Delaware, we lost in the final inning. We took that heated energy into the next game with Kutztown and won our first game of the fall, handedly. The following weekend we would travel to Ewing, NJ to participate in a memorial tournament where we faced Rider and Iona. We battled hard through nine innings with Rider and the game ended in a tie due to time restrictions. Immediately after, we faced Iona and put a beating to them (to say the least). With homeruns from freshman, Chase Snell, and sophomore, Kate Poppe, we outscored our opponent, 9-3. Our fall season came to a close as we faced Penn and LaSalle in our final weekend of games. The first game was a tough pitcher's duel between Penn's pitcher and our very own Kate Poppe. We ended with a 3-1 victory over our Big 5 rival. Unfortunately, we were unable to carry our hitting momentum into the next game with LaSalle and lost in extra innings, 3-1.
All in all, our young team has shown a lot of promise for the upcoming spring season. With all the changes to the BIG EAST conference, we are more than excited to take advantage of the opportunities that lie before us. After a tough season last year, the returning players are hungry for redemption in the 2014 season and ready to make a name for Villanova Softball. The freshmen players have also shown a lot of heart and have accepted what it means to be a Villanovan, as a student and an athlete.
With the addition of a new assistant this year, the coaching staff has the best chemistry I have seen in my tenure as a Villanova Softball player. We have the perfect mix of what it takes to be an NCAA tournament contending team. Our team, players and coaches together, understands what we have to do in order to get where we want to be in the upcoming season. We are creating the theme of "playing for each other" this year. As a senior, my classmates and I want this season to go down in the books as the best season Villanova Softball has ever seen. In order to do so, we need to focus on the name on the front of our jerseys. This team sport is all about relationships, communication, and sacrifices. From this day forward, we will begin to play as a team and for the team. You will not find a team on this campus or in the country that has a stronger bond than ours. You will not find a team with a stronger commitment than we do. And you will not find a team with the will to win that exceeds ours. A BIG EAST title is what we want and that's exactly what we are going to get. Period.