Shortstop Karmazyn '22 sliding into home / photo courtesy of the Muhlenberg Office of Communications

On Feb. 1, the softballs would have tried unionizing if they were sentient, due to the absolute abuse faced at the hands of the close-knit Muhlenberg softball team.

Muhlenberg softball is entering their upcoming season with only the seniors having ever seeing a full collegiate season. Sarah Karmazyn ‘22 (AKA Karm), an infielder on the team, says she is “super excited for the season.”

The team will start their long 48 game season, with a two week spring break tour through Virginia, South Carolina, and Maryland. “You are forced to hangout,” says Ava Calabrese ‘25, catcher and corner infielder, with absolute joy in her voice.

This team is in no need of bonding, “We all clicked really fast,” according to pitcher Justine Bergara ‘25.

The team has bonded upon the foundation that Coach Leavenworth has built. According to shortstop Kaitlyn Buurman ‘25, “The senior class is really selfless in the way that they go about accepting us and teaching us the skills that they have learned at the collegiate level and because of that way of approaching teaching us we’re going to be the best version of ourselves on and off the field.”

Calabrese emphasized this sentiment saying, “Everyone looks out for each other because that’s what the seniors reamed into us.” 

When asked about how the senior class has learned to be such influential and accepting leaders Karm described that, “We all come with different types of leadership. The fact that our coach created this type of leadership means it’s something that we’ll pass along.” 

For this team there is a lot to be said about passing along the traditions and culture that Coach Leavenworth has fostered at Muhlenberg softball since joining the program in 2020. Calabrese explains the MULES philosophy is “M is Magnanimous, U is Uncommon, L is the little things a lot, E is Excited and S is Sturdy.” Buurman explains that since the fall, “Before lifts and practice we do a four-minute MULES [session] where our coach or one of us sits down with one of the core values of the softball team and explains what it means to us.”

If you’re wondering, in this team of tradition and community, even Sturdy has a story. Karm narrates that, “Sturdy came from a few years ago, it’s actually a really random story about one of our upperclassmen at the time and a student called her sturdy as a joke. So we started calling her [Sophie Chong ‘21] Sturdy Chong. It caught on and the coach even took it and it meant to stay grounded with all things, not just softball.”

From the seniors to the freshman, this culture of support and exceptionality as student-athletes is apparent. The seniors are ready to compete again and teach the underclassmen what it means to be a Mule and according to Calabrese, “One of my goals is to be an absolute sponge around them and learn what Muhlenberg softball is all about.”

So while it may have been their first day of official practice, this team is ready to cling to the fences of the dugout and cheer on their teammates. Karm describes the large number of underclassmen as a great asset to the team’s depth. Buurman, too, noted that the first practice went well and commented,“Our team dynamic is super strong and our friendship goes beyond the field.”

When asked about personal goals for the season, center infielder, Kaya Mahy ‘25 said simply, “To honor the upperclassmen.” 

Bergara added that she hoped “to make a run deep in the playoffs,” and that as, “freshman we all want to start a couple of games, but to make a run to prove to Gettysburg [College] and McDaniels [College] that this freshman class is different, this team is different, Gettysburg be talking smack.” 

Obviously, the kumbaya on this team has not softened their competitive edge.

This season will start off with a “bang,” says Bergara as she describes their spring break war tour, down the southern east coast, that starts on Mar. 12 against Pfeiffer University in Virginia Beach. 

As well as the plethora of doubleheaders that they will face in the regular season, the team will have to take to heart the advice from Leavenworth that Buurman highlighted of being “where your feet are, to not take this opportunity for granted.” 

Appreciating the present and focusing on the next play in life as well as the next cutoff throw will be essential to this team’s success both on and off the diamond. 

Otherwise the lessons learned in this offseason will be learned with the pain of the southern clay fields and the harsh cold of academic row after a bad grade. After all, according to Bergara, “It’s not just about softball, it’s about life.”  


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