I don’t like to talk about myself.
After all, softball is a team sport. You need at least nine players to field a team and bat in a line-up. You need at least eight other girls to pick you up after you leave runners stranded on base or after you make an error that potentially cost the team the game. You need your teammates.
But, with only five weeks left in my career, I’ve begun to reflect on the game that I’ve played for the last 16 years of my life.
Our record thus far this season is 16-22. It’s the only losing record I’ve been a part of since I started playing, and without a doubt, the most difficult record to come to terms with.
Clearly, we aren’t very good this year. On paper, our total earned run average is 5.75, our team batting average is just shy of .300 and only one team in our conference has made more errors than our 46. In the Pac-12, among other conferences, these statistics just don’t cut it.
Sadly, with only 16 games left, I know I will never have the opportunity to compete for a national championship. I won’t be able to dog pile on the pitcher’s mound as everyone cheers because we are going to the Women’s College World Series. I won’t hold up a Pac-12 championship banner for all to see we are the best in the west, nor will I have to play another postseason game. It’s just not in the cards.
But what these statistics and shortcomings fail to display is everything this program and team has given me along the way.
Despite all odds against us, I wouldn’t change my decision to come here. I came to Stanford for its prestigious academics and elite athletic programs. I really had only two criteria when it came to thinking about colleges as a teenager: I wanted to play in the Pac-10, and stay in California.
I was recruited in high school by an Olympic gold medalist coach who created something out of nothing, making the Stanford women’s softball team a true post-season contender that produced several all-time greats. I knew the program had a winning tradition, but I didn’t know that it would give me so much more than I could have ever imagined.
College athletics is a funny thing. It can either give you some of your best memories or worst memories. It’s not easy by any means, and the number of sacrifices athletes make is unfathomable.
But you leave with so much more than you came with. You learn life lessons: sometimes things are beyond your control, life just isn’t fair and time management is huge. You gather experience and perspective along the way: at the end of the day a degree from Stanford is what matters, and you create and foster relationships that you never thought you’d have. You visit new and exciting places that you might not have gotten to travel to, and you get more than enough Nike gear.
But above everything, you leave with a family that loves you, made up of teammates that would find a way to drive to the moon and back if it meant that much to you, friends that spend free time together watching Friends and eating chips and dip, and girls that become like sisters.
In 30 years, it’s not going to matter who won the World Series in 2015, who didn’t receive a postseason berth or who hit .400.
In two months, I will leave Stanford with a Bachelor’s Degree in hand and more than enough besides that. So, I didn’t win a national championship or conference title, and I leave with only two postseason berths instead of four. So what. I think I made it out pretty well.
Contact Erin Ashby at eashby ‘at’ stanford.edu.