By Noah Allison–
Louisville softball opened up their home schedule this past weekend as Kent State, Cleveland State and North Dakota State came to town for the Louisville Red & Black Classic. Coming out of the weekend the Cards are (7-4) overall and are working to get better with the ACC season just a few weeks away.
The Cards have a certain confidence about them and that confidence comes in the form of their star player, junior Maryssa Becker. Standing six-feet tall, Becker is a jack-of-all-trades. She is a shut down right-handed pitcher and an explosive batter. Impacting the game both offensively and defensively at a high rate makes Becker arguably the most important factor in the Cards goals for this season.
“We really want to make a statement this year in the ACC and win the ACC outright,” Becker said. “Last year I think we learned a ton about ourselves, knowing that we can play in a much tougher conference and succeed. It was a big jump from the AAC to the ACC, even the teams that may be below you in the rankings are still going to come to beat you regardless what their name is, what your name is. For us I think it was eye opening to see that and figure out that every weekend you need to come with you’re a-game and battle against all these teams.”
In their inaugural season in the ACC head coach Sandy Pearsall’s Cards went 30-19 overall and 16-8 in the ACC.
“Last year we proved that this is the conference we’re supposed to be in and we have a good spot and we deserve it,” Becker said.
In her freshman and sophomore year, Becker was sensational. As a freshman, Becker led the pitching staff with a 13-7 record. She ended the season with a 2.13 ERA, had 147 strikeouts and was U of L’s second ever freshman to earn NFCA all-region honors. As a sophomore, Becker started 48 games at either pitcher or first base. She had a team best 14-9 record and a 2.12 total ERA. Offensively, she led the Cards with nine home runs, 39 RBI’s and a .604 slugging percentage.
Stepping into the role of the upperclassman this year, Becker made sure that the offseason was productive.
“I was definitely working more on the smaller things and refining a bit. Obviously stepping into that leadership role as an upperclassman. Taking the younger kids in the fall taking them through some stuff, making sure they are ready for college level games. I think we worked really hard in the fall and got some good games in the fall to help get them some experience,” Becker said.
So far this year, Becker leads the Cards in batting with 10 RBI and a .826 slugger percentage. In pitching, she has a 2-2 record and a 1.14 ERA. With her constant input the star player always seems to be around and impacting the game.
“I feel like I have more of an ability to impact the success of my team and I feel like too it helps me mentally stay in the game a little bit more then if I were just doing one or the other. It’s an opportunity more so than pressure for me. I love being able to play on both sides of the ball and be able to help my team both offensively and defensively,” Becker said.
Becker also feels a personal responsibility to help lift the U of L softball program to new heights.
“In the postseason we want to make it to regionals and then make it passed the regional. We haven’t made it out of regionals since this program has been here. We want to be the team that catapults us into the next level. I think we have the team to do that; we have a ton of talent and a ton of potential. We just have to tap into it,” Becker said.
Becker enjoys her role on the team, knowing that she can directly impact the outcome of each game. Becker lets her play do her talking, but she doesn’t hold herself on a different pedestal from her teammates. She knows that in the team game, she is only as good as her team and getting the job done as a team is what is important to her.
“I like being in the dugout too but being on the field is awesome,” Becker joked. “But hanging out in the dugout with these girls is great, cheering on my team. As long as we’re succeeding I don’t really care where I’m at.”
Photo by Wade Morgen / The Louisville Cardinal