Spring Sports Preview: A New Energy On The Field
Under A New Head Coach, Delagrammaticas, Lynette-Krech, And Wilkins Are Leading By Example
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
In the heart of every Superfan, there’s a love for comebacks. Hustle, energy, and cohesion can bring a team from past disappointment in a losing season to the thrill of contention. So far this spring, the Boston College women’s softball team has embodied such resilient redemption on the diamond.
Coming off of a 2011 campaign in which they finished with a dismal 15-31 record, the Eagles have stormed out of the gate with a vengeance this season, winning 16 of their first 22 games. An effective mix of veterans and newcomers has asserted BC as a legitimate ACC powerhouse, leaving head coach Ashley Obrest impressed with her squad’s early-season results.
“I think everyone’s playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Obrest said. “We’re kind of giving everyone a shot … some players have surprised us and stepped in some big roles, so we’re kind of just going with it. We want to give the kids a shot, so if they’re performing well they’re going to stay in the lineup.”
This performance-driven philosophy has led to widespread contributions from a versatile BC roster. Obrest acknowledged, however, that her team’s consistent play owes much to the efforts and leadership provided by its three veteran captains: Brittany Wilkins, Ali Lynette-Krech, and Rene Delagrammaticas.
“I think they’ve done a fantastic job so far,” Obrest said. “They’ve really set the bar high, and everyone’s buying into that.”
As the seasoned leaders of the BC squad, seniors Wilkins and Lynette-Krech and graduate student Delagrammaticas have all experienced the highs and lows of the softball program during their careers. With changes that include a new coaching staff helmed by Obrest, all three also understand how vital the team’s quick start is in terms of propelling the Eagles to a winning season and revitalizing the team’s culture.
“The most important thing about the quick start is that it really puts a lot of positive energy behind the team with the brand-new coaching staff,” Lynette-Krech commented. “We needed a good start to really drive into the season.”
Lynette-Krech, who has catalyzed the Eagles’ lineup with a batting average well over .400, is joined by her two co-captains in crediting the BC squad’s turnaround to conscientious preparation and cohesiveness facilitated by the coaches.
“I think a lot of that starts with our coaching staff pushing us day in and day out to be the best that we can be and helping us believe that we can get to where we want to be, which is ultimately an NCAA birth,” Wilkins said, speaking on the newfound confidence and energetic attitude fueling the Eagles’ winning identity.
Ironically, this new and improved mentality that seems to have sparked the team’s resurgence comes from Obrest, an individual quite familiar to the BC community. Prior to graduating from BC in 2007, Obrest starred as a catcher on the same team she now coaches, setting the BC softball record for most career runs batted in and becoming the first Eagles softball player to be recognized as an ACC Player of the Week. Now in her first full season as the Eagles’ head coach, it’s only natural that the former on-field standout has brought her past experiences at her alma mater both to the dugout and an understanding relationship with her players.
“I feel like I can still kind of relate to these kids,” Obrest said of her strong connection to BC. “I can just relate to what they’re going through. I’m still familiar with a lot of things, so I can have conversations with some of the same professors that are still here and recommend classes to [the players]. It’s a good fit.”
In turn, having a coach who has taken the proverbial walk in her players’ shoes and can bring firsthand insight to every step of a season-long journey has positively impacted the current BC softball squad as a whole.
“[Coach Obrest] knows what to expect from us, she knows what we’re capable of, and she expects a lot from us,” Lynette-Krech said. “She doesn’t let us slack because she knows exactly how much it takes, and she knows that we have what it takes.”
Though it’s a tremendous asset to have a head coach in touch with the rigors and pressures of a collegiate softball season as experienced by the players, a team’s success ultimately comes down to leadership on the field. Leading an Eagles team that features a combined 12 freshmen and sophomores—over half of the entire roster—presents a multitude of challenges to the three captains. It’s clear, though, that they are continuously embracing the opportunity to ensure that the squad remains a cohesive unit through a multitude of ups and downs.
“I think when you’re on the field, you don’t necessarily know what somebody’s class is,” a power-hitting Wilkins explained of the chemistry that’s helped the Eagles to keep adding tallies to the win column. “That’s part of our team camaraderie that we have—you don’t really know the difference.”
Delagrammaticas, who not only contributes in the lineup and on the infield but also serves as a reliable mentor to younger players, stressed that teamwork stems from unwavering leadership: “Since we’ve been through the four years of college—I mean, I’ve graduated already—it’s easy to kind of help people who are younger to follow footsteps of the way that we went,” Delagrammaticas said. “We lead them in the direction to be successful later in life.”
As much as victories mean to Obrest, the effort her three captains have made to guide the team’s newcomers and create a positive environment extends far beyond wins and losses.
“[The freshmen] kind of just look to the captains,” Obrest said. “If something goes wrong, they kind of look to those three. [The captains] correct things and calm them down, and then move on from there. They’ve done an unbelievable job. I couldn’t have asked for three better captains than those guys.”
With all of the responsibilities that the captains and their teammates have on the ball field, it can be easy to forget that these Eagles also lead active lives in the classroom, on campus, and within the community.