On some afternoons the most prominent sound coming from the Marshall Field music building isn’t music at all, but rather the chatter and chants of a college softball game. The Sarah Lawrence softball team, four years into the NCAA, has been busy laying the groundwork for a competitive legacy. The team is young and continuing to acquire talent through each recruiting class. Infielder Taryn Penna (‘19) recounts, “My class was the first real recruitment class. When we got here, the returning players were excited about us and ready to start competing. Now over a year later, there is a mix of pre-recruitment players and recruits, and the team is fiercer than ever.”
Establishing a competitive program is a difficult process, but it has been a rapid evolution for the Gryphons, improving yearly from a difficult 2-26 season in 2013. Despite a noticeably small team of only 11 players, the Gryphons have been impressive in their rise and resilience. Pitcher and infielder Kameron McNair (‘18) describes the team’s advancement, “It’s been incredible seeing the team grow, even if not literally in numbers. The program I joined two years ago is not the program I play with today.” McNair is one of the Gryphon’s three pitchers, along with Mikayla Cunningham (‘19) and new recruit Karissa Mcauley (‘20).
Mcauley expressed that her appreciation of playing for SLC goes beyond the field. “[Sarah Lawrence] stood out because I know I can still be competitive and play the sport I love and focus on my education as well,” she said.
Penna also attested to the team’s impressive work ethic as an integral part of the team’s improvement, saying, “Every person on the team has been working extremely hard to reach and surpass the next level of competition.”
Of course, the trajectory of success the Gryphons comes from more than pure talent. Coaches, Chelsea Sheehan and Kevin Carbon, have worked to establish a supportive and enthusiastic culture.“They care so much about us and push us hard every day to be the best team we can possibly be. They’ve done so much in the past three years to make it what it is now,” said outfielder Sarah Shapiro (‘19). Shapiro went on to explain that the leadership of the coaches has rubbed off on the attitude of the team as a whole: “People want to be here, we like each other, and we want to get better. I think sometimes you’re on a team where people don’t really like each other and they just like the sport, but that’s not what this team is. We pick each other up and hold each other accountable and I think that’s what has made us a better team.”
With eight games left in the season, including a final home double-header against Lehman College on April 26, the Gryphons have an opportunity to make history with their strongest season to date.
There is a definite expectation that the SLC softball program will continue to turn heads in the Skyline Conference. The team is confident in its future abilities, because of their work ethic, the return of athletes from study abroad, as well as an impressive recruiting class for 2018.
Penna described the team’s enthusiasm for the incoming class and future expectations. “Next year we have more recruits that are excited to grow the program with us. The building process really is a group effort,” Penna said. “I'm excited for the new talent on the team and for them to experience Sarah Lawrence as a school.”
Moving forward, the team is poised for success and anticipation is high as a once struggling program sits on the cusp of an exciting, bright future. In agreement with her other teammates, Shapiro affirmed the positive changes of softball team: “It’s crazy how different [the team] is from when I came. I’m so proud to be a part of what this team is becoming, and I can’t imagine what it will be like when I come back after a few years.”
David Levin (‘19)