After a difficult start to the season, the women's softball team earned two bounce-back victories last Sunday over Dartmouth, thanks in large part to the offensive power of shortstop Stephanie Thompson '13. Thompson is currently one of the best batters in the nation, sitting in second place nationwide with a .480 batting average. Thompson hit a walk-off RBI single in the second of Sunday's victory. For her outstanding performance at the plate all season, The Herald has named Thompson Athlete of the Week.
Herald: Could you tell us a little bit more about the game against Dartmouth?
Thompson: Sunday were good games. We got slapped by them on Saturday, so it was not the overall best weekend. But the end was good, and it was a good finish to take into next weekend. Especially for Harvard - we need a little momentum to go there, because (there are) going to be tough games this weekend. The first day, we were just struggling a little bit - we could have won some of those games - but the second day we turned it around, and we showed a lot of fight like we've been showing all season, coming back and winning both the games in the last inning. We have a bunch of talent - we just struggle trying to finish and win games.
You did incredibly well at the last game. What did you feel just after the final point?
I was the runner one of the times and the hitter the second time. At the first game, when I was the runner, they walked me, so I didn't really do much - I just ran the bases. (Alyssa Caplan '13) was the one who hit it, she had a great at bat. Previously, a couple weekends ago, she had another walk-off home run against Princeton so everyone was excited to see her back in the box in a game-winning situation. Then in the second game, we put everything together again and got a bunch of hits in a row. I ended up getting the game-winning hit - I hit it to the shortstop.
What did you feel while when you realized that your hit secured the win?
I was just excited to get a good piece of the bat on the ball, make something happen. I did not really care how it happened - I was just happy we won. A win is a win, so that is exciting. My coach said after I hit it, "That's how to hit the ball through somebody."
What do you think makes you a good player?
I played for so long, but the difference now is that I understand the game so much more than I did when I was younger. You have to know that in baseball or softball you fail often - it is part of the game. The best hitters get a hit three out of 10 times. Seven of those times, you are failing, so you really have to be mentally focused and have a decent mindset to accept those seven times you get out and still be positive and confident. Once you lose your confidence, you're screwed, really. ... You need to learn that when you make a mistake, you have to focus on the positive things to take from it and to let it go. You cannot let it hang over you and affect you the rest of the game. Freshmen come in a little less mature, and you can see them getting mad. So it is very mental in so many ways.
How did you first become passionate about softball?
I have an older brother who played sports. I have played sports all my life - in high school I played basketball, softball and volleyball - so I have always been active. I kind of joke around with my family saying that I didn't really have an option and that if I wanted someone to play with me, I had to play sports, or else no one would play with me.
Is there any athlete you admire?
My brother, truthfully, is probably the biggest one. ... He's a pitcher who didn't hit, so it is not remotely what I do, but he has definitely been the biggest one who has helped me. When I was in high school, he used to take me and pitch me softballs in afternoons and practice with me. He has helped me with the mindset of the game, because he was a pitcher and knows about how to strike somebody out. He helped me learn what the pitcher is probably thinking in certain situations. ... On days when I struggle, he is the one I will call. He has definitely guided me down this path.