By David Cohn
As the Softball regular season draws to a close, the members of the Class of 2013 enter the final few weeks of their senior seasons. Together, Teagan Gerhart, Tegan Schmidt, Jenna Rich and Sarah Hassman have epitomized the quality of resiliency, overcoming tremendous challenges throughout their time on the Farm to achieve high levels of success both on and off the field.
In the following two-part feature story, The Daily will profile these four seniors’ journeys as student-athletes while highlighting their impact on the Cardinal program. In addition, the leadership that they have provided has helped galvanize their teammates while strengthening the Card’s ability to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament this season.
Today’s piece focuses on Teagan Gerhart and Tegan Schmidt, with tomorrow’s installment featuring Jenna Rich and Sarah Hassman.
Teagan Gerhart: Ace of the Rotation
As the face of the Cardinal pitching staff for most of her Stanford career, Gerhart has aptly handled the expectations that have been placed on her shoulders with focus and dedication. Since making her first appearance in the pitching circle as a freshman in 2010, Gerhart has been called upon to carry a significant portion of the pitching workload for the Cardinal; Gerhart is currently third on Stanford’s all-time innings pitched list at 891.2 innings. In turn, Gerhart has certainly delivered on head coach John Rittman and his coaching staff’s faith in her, posting 99 career victories, the third-most in program history.
However, for all the success that Gerhart has had during her time on the Farm, her accomplishments are all the more remarkable given the injuries that she has dealt with. During her freshman year, Gerhart broke her pitching arm, an injury that required surgery and caused her to miss a significant portion of Pac-12 conference play. Furthermore, Gerhart re-aggravated that injury last season, leaving her in a considerable amount of pain.
Nevertheless, in spite of these setbacks, Gerhart has continued to lead the Cardinal in the circle; in her career, Gerhart has helped deliver nearly 64 percent of the Card’s victories since 2010 (99 career wins out of 155 wins for the program), while facing what softball alum Jenna Becerra ’12 M.A. ’13 calls “the tremendous pressure of being the No. 1 pitcher.” In particular, Becerra commended Gerhart for “trying to do what she can and not think too much about what others expect of her.”
While her performance on the softball field has certainly been noteworthy, Gerhart highlights the value of receiving a Stanford education as extremely important to her as well. A Human Biology major with a particular interest in Exercise Physiology, Gerhart noted that, “Once you are done with softball, all you have is your academics. We [the softball team] take a lot of pride in our academics and our degree … a lot of us are engineers, biology, and CS majors, and once we step off this field, it is strictly academics …”
No matter what happens over the rest of the season on the softball field, Gerhart will receive her diploma in June and be primed to contribute in the medical field in her post-Stanford career.
Tegan Schmidt: Selfless Teammate
When asked to describe Schmidt, her fellow seniors and former teammates unanimously called her the ideal teammate. Becerra said about Schmidt, “I am always impressed by her in terms of her ability to come back from tearing her ACL in back-to-back years. Not only that, she is also a double major in biology and philosophy … Even when she was hurt, she would be the one raking the field when no one else would be. She would be the one helping the coaches out [and] getting balls for the girls. Any way that she could contribute, she would do it.”
As Becerra mentioned in her praise of Schmidt, the Rocklin, Calif., product has overcome two serious knee injuries that occurred during her first two seasons on the Farm. Schmidt’s first ACL tear forced her to redshirt and miss her entire freshman season. After recovering from that injury, Schmidt subsequently tore her other ACL prior to the start of the 2011 season.
Following these two devastating injuries, Schmidt worked tirelessly to get back on the field. With incredible resiliency, she participated in her first set of college softball games last season. In the process, Schmidt produced for the Cardinal, starting in 26 games at second base while driving in fifteen runs in only 78 plate appearances. This season, Schmidt has started in another 27 games for the Card, hitting .268 with 9 RBI.
Schmidt gave some very meaningful advice to the incoming Class of 2017 when asked what would be her message to the next group of Stanford softball players and students. “Sometimes it is better to go out for ice cream with your friends, hang out, and do something fun because honestly, after college, you are not going to remember the B+ instead of a B,” the 2012 Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention selection said.
“You are going to remember the people you meet and the relationships that you form. Those [things] will last after college. I really think it is important to study, obviously, to do well here. However, I think it is even more important to form good relationships and have fun,” she added.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.