By Greg Dudek
For Amber White, this softball season feels different than all the previous ones.
The senior starting pitcher for the Bridgewater State University softball team has had a year of dominance on the mound and has become nationally recognized for her performances.
But that isn’t what has made this a different season for White because the high acclaim has always been there.
In her senior season, this will be the last time she puts on the Bears’ uniform, as she plays out the end of an illustrious softball career.
“This is my last year to bring everything I have,” White said. “In the past, I’ve always wanted to succeed and do my best, but I always had at least another year to do it better if I needed to. This year I’m just trying to bring everything I have every time I step on the mound. I don’t want to leave or end my career with any regrets.”
White is making the most of her senior season. Game after game White has shown why she is one of the top pitchers in the country.
On Monday in a doubleheader against Fitchburg State University, White pitched complete game shutouts to secure two wins for the Lady Bears.
She even went a little extra in game two in a 1-0 win in nine innings for Bridgewater State to extend her shutout streak to 32 ⅓ innings.
The two-time Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Pitcher of the Year has hit new highs this season as she is currently 18-3 with a 0.45 earned run average (ERA) with 13 shutouts and two saves.
Her impressive stats don’t stop there, as opponents have struggled all season against her with only a .146 batting average against.
“I’m glad I’m doing so well, but I try not to look at my stats too much because there is a lot of season left,” White said. “A lot can still change, and I don’t want to get complacent with where I’m at right now.”
Even without looking at her stats, White is constantly reminded of her brilliance on the mound. Already, White has been named MASCAC Pitcher of the Week five times, including this week and has been named Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Div. III New England Softball Pitcher of the Week three times this season.
White’s performances have stretched far beyond the regional circuit, as last week White earned Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Div. III National Pitcher of the Week honors.
While the individual recognition is well deserved, it doesn’t drive White inside the pitching circle. This season, she has only one thing in mind, and that is to help her team capture a MASCAC championship.
“All the accolades are great. They’re hard proof of all the work I’ve put in to be able to do what I’m doing,” White said. “But for me, they’re really just bonuses. I go out on the mound and work hard every pitch for the wins, not the recognition. I want the title of MASCAC Tournament champion more than anything else.”
Coming into this season, many didn’t know if White alone could carry the Lady Bears to the title. There is only so much White can do from within the pitching circle, but in her second year as captain, her focus and intensity has carried over to her teammates to give them a much needed boost.
“When she is pitching the confidence of the team definitely goes up,” said senior catcher Jill Welch. “Being on the field with her you can sense her focus and determination. The whole team has confidence in her when she pitches and feels confident that we will win when she is pitching.”
The Lady Bears are now 23-11 and 10-0 within the MASCAC for the top spot in the standings. A large part of that has to do with White, but she also does what the best players in their respective sports always do, make everyone else around her better.
“She actually makes my job pretty easy because she rarely misses her spots,” Welch said. “I know Amber is ready and going to have a great game when my hand is already throbbing after the warm up.”
With only six regular season games left before the MASCAC Tournament begins, White’s career is slowly dwindling.
White’s last year of playing softball at the collegiate level will go for as long as she can lead the Lady Bears. And even though it hasn’t happened yet, White’s career will end sometime over the next month, and when it ends she will stand where it all began, inside the pitching circle.
“There’s something about stepping on the field with your teammates with everyone determined to win that brings everyone together, there’s nothing like it,” White said.
Greg Dudek is The Comment’s Editor-In-Chief. Follow him on Twitter at gdudek10 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.