Freshman makes varsity softball: a whole new ball game

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By Aimee Buttenbaum, Sports Editor

During the girls’ varsity softball game against Unionville, Libby Winters doubled and drove in two runs, sending a thrill through the crowd and aiding the team to victory with a 6-3 win. Not only is Winters a key player on the team, but she is the only freshman who made varsity for the 2019 season.

After four days of tryouts in early March, coach Pete Ricci split up the girls during practice as if they were about to complete a drill. To
Winters’ surprise, it was in that moment that they were announcing who would be on what team, and she was placed on varsity.

Months before tryouts even began, Winters began bonding with the upperclassmen during the team’s group workouts which took place once a week from September to March.

“They actually put time into (the underclassmen). Before I even showed up, some of them knew all of the freshmen’s names,” Winters said.

While all of the varsity members were welcoming, Winters noted that it was a lot different going from middle-school softball to playing against girls who are 18 years old.

“Facing better pitching, even hitting, from the other team forces you to work harder. You have to work harder, because if not, (teams like) Haverford and Ridley are just going to come out and they’re going to work harder than you,” Winters said.

Winters started with tee-ball at age five, and she hasn’t left the field since. She began to take the sport more seriously the summer before fifth grade, and in the following years, she played on travel teams Paoli Express, Sting and the Delco Diamonds.

Currently, she is playing for a team called PA Chaos, a travel and tournament softball team in southeast Pennsylvania. Arlyn Landow, one of her coaches, admires Winters’ determination.

“Libby’s work ethic is unmatched. She works on her skills about five to six days a week, 52 weeks a year,” Landow said. “As her club coach, I personally had zero doubt in my mind that she’d make her school’s varsity team.”

After working with different coaches, Libby is now being influenced by varsity head coach Pete Ricci.

“He jokes around, but in a good way, and when we are actually playing, he’s really into it and serious which everyone likes,” Winters said. “He has a bond with each person specifically, and he cares about every single person on the team.”

She finds it interesting how softball is just as much a physical game as it is a mental game, requiring 100 percent focus all of the time.

“I like (softball) because pretty much everyone plays offense and defense, unlike other sports where it’s one-sided,” Winters said. “I think playing defense helps you on your offense too. By hitting you learn different pitches, and if you’re a pitcher you can use that against batters.”

Throughout the season, Winters said she is excited to learn as much as possible from the seniors before they leave in hopes that she can fill their shoes one day and be as supportive to the underclassman as they were to her.