After splitting their first doubleheader against Austin College on Saturday and securing a spot in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) tournament, there was only one thing left for the University of Dallas softball team to do: give their seniors a proper send-off.
The second half of the Crusaders’ four-game series against Austin’s ’Roos marked the team’s senior day. This will be the final day of home games for five members of the squad who are concluding their collegiate softball careers: first and third baseman Alexandria Compte, outfielder Avery Finch, outfielder Allison Kotlar and pitcher Katie Lee, all seniors, as well as junior first baseman Christina Torre, who will graduate in December 2017.
“This weekend I wanted to do everything in my power to give us the opportunity to win every game because our seniors deserved it,” freshman pitcher and second baseman Lauren Galvan said. “These were the last games on our home field for our seniors, and I wanted to make it something they would be able to look back at and be proud of.”
Galvan would play a crucial role in Sunday’s victories, relieving Lee on the mound in the third inning of game one and starting game two, earning the wins for both games.
Although game one opened with an early 0-1 lead for the ’Roos, the Crusaders responded with an impressive six runs in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore middle infielder Melanie Savala tripled to right center with the bases loaded, sending the first three UD runners home and establishing a lead that the Lady Crusaders would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
After one out, Torre reached second on a fielder’s choice, a single from Compte sent Savala home, and both Compte and Torre would reach home before the inning to solidify the Crusaders’ lead at 6-1.
The Crusaders would double their score by the end of the game, with two runs in the second inning, three in the fourth and one in the sixth. Their 12 runs marked a season high for UD, and their 15 hits surpassed the team’s previous high of 13 hits, which they had reached in two previous games this season. Savala, Finch, Compte and standout freshman outfielder Jade Miller all posted multiple hits, with Miller going three-for-three at the plate in game one.
Finch, who was named SCAC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, also reached 100 career stolen bases with a game-high three in the first game.
Both coach and players commented on the weekend’s standout offensive performance.
“This weekend, the team hit the best they have all season and we plan to bring those hot bats into conference tournament,” head coach Elizabeth Krysiak said.
Compte also remarked on the team’s offense but also stressed the importance of defense. Although the Crusaders won both their games with 12 and nine runs respectively, they also allowed eight from Austin in game one and seven in game two.
“These were great hitting games for us but I anticipate us working on defense moving into the conference tournament,” Compte said.
Between games one and two, the team honored their five graduating members with a brief ceremony in which each player was escorted onto the field by friends and family and presented with gifts from their teammates as their most notable achievements and own words of gratitude were read through the loudspeakers.
The event painted a picture of a united team full of love and respect, and that picture persisted and was strengthened by the various interviews given after the fact.
“It has been an honor to coach these young ladies over their careers here at UD,” Krysiak said of the first group of players to play their full UD careers under her leadership. “They have grown so much as young women. They have helped the program become one where competition matters and you can really have fun playing softball and working hard. They will all be missed, but have each left a legacy behind that will be carried on.”
Galvan offered a freshman’s perspective, emphasizing the seniors’ value as leaders and friends.
“They are tremendous leaders and amazing people and they have taught me so much, not only about softball but also about life, and I am extremely blessed to have played with them and known them even though it was only for a single season,” Galvan said. “God has amazing plans for their lives, and I’m excited to see all that they will accomplish.”
Compte, meanwhile, was able to reflect back over their entire time at UD and expressed hopes for her class’ lasting impact on the program.
“My fellow seniors have left me with memories that will last forever,” Compte said. “We have seen so many sides to the University of Dallas softball team. … Yet somehow through all these things we have managed to not only be teammates, but best friends. The friendships and lessons we have learned will last a lifetime. I have been honored to be a part of all my fellow seniors’ lives. I think we all provided a different personality that the team needed at one point or another throughout our seasons at UD. I hope we have shown our underclassmen that five girls with different personalities and perspectives can come together to lead. I am very happy with the team we are leaving behind; they are truly a remarkable group of women.”
Compte’s faith in and hopes for the future leaders of UD softball were borne out once more in game two as Miller and fellow freshmen Mackenzie Tano and Allie Driskill posted multiple-hit games. Freshman pitcher and outfielder Lety Morales had three RBIs to make four multiple-RBI games in her debut season, and sophomore catcher Stephanie Cervantes belted the team’s lone home run of the day to contribute to the 9-7 win.
Riding the high of their senior day victories, the Crusaders hope for continued success as they head to Texas Lutheran University for their SCAC tournament first-round matchup against Schreiner University at noon on Friday, April 28.
“We are expecting to go to SCAC tournament and play the best we have all year,” Krysiak said. “I can only ask them for their best and this is the moment we have worked all year for.