By Emily Hayes
The Lady Bears will say goodbye to their leader behind the mask this season.
The Bridgewater State University softball team has 17 girls on the roster this season and six of them will graduate this year. One of the soon to be graduates, captain and catcher Brianna Strecker, is a player who has been with the team through its ups and downs.
“I just have a passion for the game,” Strecker said. “There’s just something about it that I just love. Being on the field just gives me so much drive.”
Strecker started on the Bridgewater State softball team her freshman year. In her freshman season, the team went 21-21 on the year and made it to the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England championship game only to lose to Keene State. That season Strecker batted .247 with 18 hits in 73 at bats.
Over the years her play has progressed and this year she has a .325 batting average, the second highest on the team. She attributes much of her success to the atmosphere of Bridgewater State’s athletic department and softball program.
I love being a Bear. There’s a passion in playing for Bridgewater. – Brianna Strecker
“You just feel like everyone has your back,” Strecker said. “I love being a Bear. There’s a passion in playing for Bridgewater.”
Strecker has worked her way through the Bridgewater State program all the way to being a two time captain.
“I don’t see it as being a captain,” she said. “Leadership is just something that comes naturally to me. I wouldn’t want any other role on this team.”
Throughout her four years on the team, Strecker has gained the respect of not only her teammates, but her coaches as well.
“[Strecker] is one of the strongest student leaders I have ever met in my entire life,” said Lady Bears’ head coach Allie LeBlanc. “She is so internally driven that she doesn’t need anyone else to pick her up, she’ll just do it herself. She’s like a mini coach in a way.”
LeBlanc has grown attached to Bri over the years as she was an assistant coach when Strecker joined the program her freshman year. She described Strecker as a quiet catcher in her freshman season, but added that her personality and leadership abilities got stronger as the years passed.
“She’s just been the strongest leader I have seen come through the program in a very long time,” LeBlanc said. “I’m going to miss her so much.”
Strecker isn’t quite ready to leave yet either.
“I can’t even think about leaving,” Strecker said. “I’m still in denial. I pretend like I’m not leaving because I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it when I’m no longer allowed to play.”
Strecker hopes to to end her Bridgewater State career with a championship as she has one wish for the team, win the MASCAC Tournament.
“That would mean more than anything to me and that’s something I want to do before I go,” Strecker said.
Emily Hayes is a Comment staff writer. Follow her on Twitter at @em12ha or email her at email@example.com.