An excerpt from the Harvard athletics mission statement reads, “Harvard values the lessons that have long been taught by athletic participation: the pursuit of excellence through personal development and teamwork.”
For Harvard coach Jenny Allard, values like these are what she looks for in recruiting a new freshman class.
“We are... looking for kids that are looking to be true scholars,” Allard said. “I think beyond that we look for people... who want to come in and make Harvard softball the best program it can be.”
Allard added significant depth in the infield, with the addition of rookies Meagan Lantz, Erin Lockhart, Rhianna Rich, Kaitlyn Schiffhauer, and Sarah Smith.
Even with only eight games played, Rich has shown what she can do at the collegiate level, being named Ivy League Rookie of the Week after her first weekend for the Crimson. She batted a team-best 9-for-16, and went on to hit two triples and a home run in Florida. The El Segundo, Calif. native was three-time first team all-league and the Pioneer League Most Outstanding Softball Player in 2014.
Lantz is the younger sister to Katherine Lantz ’15 who was a first team All- Ivy League player after both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Meagan was three-time softball first team all-county for the Miami Herald, the 2015 Female Scholar Athlete for the Herald, as well as the offensive MVP for North Broward Prep.
Lockhart, who comes to Cambridge via Lincoln, Neb., has quite the resume from high school including, but not limited to, being named 2015 Nebraska State Gatorade Player of the Year. Lockhart was also named all-state in 2012, 2013, and was all-state captain in 2014.
Schiffhauer was a three-time first team all-league and Palo Alto Daily News’ Newcomer of the Year in 2011. Shiffhauer was also named the Cal-Hi Sports Spring CCS 2015 Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Shively, a catcher, was voted Varsity Freshman of the Year and second team all-region at North Paulding High School. She would go on to be all-state and first team all-region in 2012 and 2013.
Along with the infield group, Allard padded the pitching rotation with the addition of Kathleen Duncan, Nicki Nishizawa, and Sarah Smith.
Duncan provided nine relief innings in five appearances in the first weeks of the 2016 season. The New Jersey native also has three years of first base experience at the high school level.
Nishizawa, a mere 5,075 miles from her hometown of Aiea, HI, is a right handed pitcher from Punahou School, the same school President Barack Obama attended. Nishizawa was first team Interscholastic League of Honolulu and an all-state honorable mention her senior year.
Rounding out the list is right-handed pitcher Sarah Smith from Somerset, NJ. Smith was second team all-conference in 2013 and first team all-conference in 2015. In her first career appearance, Smith recorded a save after allowing a single hit in 2.2 innings of work.
Like all student-athletes at Harvard, they work just as hard in the classroom as they do on the diamond. The softball team has taken this aspect of a student-athlete’s life one step further—the players set a goal for their team to work for a 3.5 average GPA for the school year. Many of the freshmen have not found this benchmark to be restricting, but rather liberating.
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