Softball celebrates senior leadership

Victoria Nelson, Contributing Writer

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Senior Erin Begle embraces freshman Samantha Laberge during a game against nationally-ranked Texas Lutheran University. University of Dallas photo.

The University of Dallas softball team wrapped up at-home conference play this weekend with a four-game series against Texas Lutheran University (TLU). Despite dropping all four games to the NCAA’s nationally-ranked no. 3 Division III team, it was a joyful occasion for the Lady Crusaders as they celebrated three seniors: shortstop Erin Begle, outfielder Bailey DiStefano and first baseman Ciara Stewart.

Begle is an English major from Houston, Texas, and since her first season with the team, she has played a huge role. Freshman and sophomore year, she started a total of 70 games, and she is known to her teammates as an exceptionally hard-worker and a role model for the whole team.

“Erin is an all-around athlete,” first and third baseman Alex Compte said. “She puts 110 percent in everyday. She is oftentimes the only upperclassman in the infield, which is a very difficult job, and she always helps remind [the underclassmen] that age is just a number and that they are capable of being great. She is a constant reminder to any athlete that if you put in the work, it comes with benefits.”

DiStefano, who is expected to graduate Dec. 2016, is a politics major from Bryan, Texas, and even though this third season will be her last, she has made a lasting impression on Dallas softball and on the conference as a whole with her cheerful outlook and good sportsmanship. Last year, she was honored with a spot on the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Spring All-Sportsmanship Softball Team.

“I’m a little biased towards Bailey,” Compte said. “She just happens to be my roommate and best friend, but regardless, she is truly the best teammate I have ever had. She is always smiling and having a good time on the field, no matter the circumstance. We could be having the worst practice or game, but she always seems to find the bright light at the end of the tunnel.”

Stewart is a biology major from Crockett, Texas, with a pre-nursing concentration who excels both on the field and in the classroom. Last year she was named to the Student-Athlete Spring Academic Honor Roll. In addition to her academic achievements, she has been someone to count on in high-pressure moments on the field.

“As a team, we have counted on her to get some hits in when we needed them this year, and she has executed very well,” Compte said. “Her love of the game is very apparent because she almost always has a smile on her face on game day. Ciara is one of the funniest people on the team, and she brings a presence unlike any other. She keeps practices and games very entertaining.”

The camaraderie and love for the game and each other that these seniors embody has shone strongly throughout this season.

Despite the weekend’s losses, Dallas softball still boasts a close overall record of 16-18, and a winning in-conference record of 11-9. Junior outfielder Allison Kotlar put it very simply, and perhaps best:

“We have a great group of seniors, and they’ve helped us grow into the team we are today. We wouldn’t be where we are without them.”

The Lady Crusaders finish up non-conference play with a double header at home against LeTourneau University this Wednesday, April 13 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

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