It was a mild, clear day in Baton Rouge, La., and the Harvard softball team was locked in a 1-1 tie with the Lamar University Cardinals.
The beginning of the game saw stingy defense and solid pitching. Neither team was able to get anything going until Lamar managed to scrape a run across in the fifth inning. Two innings later in the top of the seventh, the Crimson answered on an RBI single from freshman left fielder Catherine Callaway, which knotted the game up and sent it into extra innings.
At the top of the 10th inning, freshman designated hitter Savannah Bradley stepped up to the plate with a runner on second base.
All kinds of things could have been going through her mind. She could have been thinking about the fact that this was only her fourth collegiate game. She could have remembered the two at-bats that hadn’t gone her way earlier in the contest. She could have thought back to her previous missed opportunity to put her team ahead in a critical situation.
Bradley managed to push all of those thoughts aside, however, with the mentality she has maintained all year.
“When I step up to the plate, I just tell myself that I can do it,” Bradley said. “I have the control, I have the power to…get this hit.”
Her mantra proved true. Bradley smashed a two-run homer—the first of her career—to give Harvard a 3-1 lead that would provide the final margin of victory. The blast helped establish a theme that the Crimson has embraced ever since: the rookies mean business.
“These freshmen have really come in and have vied for starting roles,” Harvard coach Jenny Allard said. “Some of them are either going to start or they’re going to…really push our starters.”
Bradley has proven that she can “push” the starters, performing well at the beginning of the season and quickly establishing herself as a strong offensive contributor. The rookie has gotten most of her offensive opportunities as a designated hitter or as a pinch hitter. She is currently tied for fifth on the team with seven RBIs, and ranks second among freshmen in at-bats.
Callaway’s success in the Lamar game has carried over throughout the season. After suffering a broken nose in the second game of the year, she has worked her way into the starting lineup as an outfielder. Callaway has matched Bradley with seven RBIs on the year, and her patience at the plate has helped her post a .315 on-base percentage.
“She’s a really strong hitter for us,” Allard said. “She’s earned a lot of time starting with her really good bat, and she’s been a really good freshman in the lineup.”
The freshman class has also made its presence felt on the mound with the powerful arm of rookie pitcher Taylor Cabe. The rookie, a key cog in the Crimson’s stalwart pitching staff, has wasted no time stepping into her role.
“She’s just a workhorse,” Allard explained. “She has great command of all of her pitches…and she’s already made some great impressions.”
Cabe’s dedication to pitching began in Little League.
“I started pitching when I was about nine,” Taylor said.