To find the names of those who possess these titles and accolades, look no further than the Harvard softball freshmen class.
“The Laurs”— Lauren Stefanchik, Lauren Tanner, Lauren Bettinelli, and Laura Miller—and those who Miller likes to call the “honorary Laurs”—Beth Sabin, Cecily Gordon and Ashley Augustine— are Harvard’s newest and most highly anticipated generation.
Sporting diverse backgrounds, coupled with talent and experience, the freshman class exudes a refreshing energy, passion for the game and appreciation for the integral role of teamwork that has meshed well with the returning players.
“All they do is come onto the field and have fun and play their guts out,” said sophomore infielder Sara Williamson. “Our freshmen are now beginning to blossom and open up. They’re so fun to be around. All of them are.”
Outfielder Ashley Augustine exemplifies the team commitment of her class. An accomplished swimmer in high school—a four time All-State Team selection—Ashley decided to narrow her focus to softball because she enjoyed the team aspect of it more than that of swimming.
Shared enthusiasm bonds the freshmen together, but their modest and team-focused nature makes them reluctant to distinguish themselves.
But being arguably the most heralded freshman class in Harvard softball history, its members are certainly deserving of individual recognition.
Whoever said that good things come in small packages knew outfielder Lauren “Jersey” Stefanchik. Standing at 5’3, her small physical appearance serves as a natural decoy to her big playmaking potential.
Along with Stefanchik’s three-time NFCA All-American honors, her 295 career stolen bases is first on the all-time high school list.
Her impressive accomplishments come at the expense of ten years of practice and commitment.
A native of the state that bears her nickname, Stefanchik was first attracted to softball by her older sister’s games, and she first picked up her own bat and glove in the third grade. Although her sister exposed her to some fundamental skills, her father was always there, encouraging her to attend clinics and learn from anyone and everyone.
Stefanchik, the Crimson’s newest leadoff hitter and outfielder, used slap-hitting and her natural speed to make her mark.
Initially she batted right-handed, but then in sixth grade, her future high school coach changed her direction. Her coach, knowing that slap-hitting was a growing trend on the West Coast, travelled to California to attend clinics and brought the skill back to New Jersey.
“I went to his clinic and learned, and I just became a lefty from then on, since batting lefty starts you closer to first base,” Stefanchik said.
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