Inside the Dugout with Villanova Softball
Nov. 18, 2013
Lauren Herschberg - Freshman 1B/3B
VILLANOVA, Pa. - 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
Throughout the season, Villanova softball will publish a rotating blog between players and coaches, sharing an insider's perspective of the team and the life of a Division-1 athlete and coach beyond the playing field. 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.