Vic McDowell, The Circuit
Versatility goes a long way in sports. Athletes are characterized by their ability to respond to changes and adapting to environments.
In softball, one sign of a versatile player can be defined as being a switch hitter, batting from both sides of the plate.
Junior second baseman Sierra Esau exemplifies this fact. She spent her first two collegiate seasons batting right-handed, but has transitioned to make an impact as a left-handed slap hitter.
Prior to attending Benedictine, Esau was a switch hitter in Nevada, but predominantly stuck to right-handed hitting. Under previous BC head coach Tim Crowley, she remained a right-hander with marginal success.
“I slapped in high school a little bit, and when I got here freshman year under the old coach [Crowley] had me strictly do right-handed,” Esau said. “Last year, we stuck with right-handed, and didn’t really have a lot of success.”
Last season, as a sophomore under then-first year coach Dana Goss, Esau had a .212 batting average with 15 stolen bases.
“A lot of people were trying to change my swing, and I said ‘you know I can slap,’” Esau said. “We tried it and it worked out really well.”
What’s not to love? Esau’s batting average has jumped to .302 so far this season. But her biggest impact has been on the bases.
Esau leads the Heart of America in stolen bases with 28 and swipes .903 bags per game, which is good for third in the NAIA.
“I love stealing bases and Coach Goss’ competitive and aggressiveness on the bases,” Esau said.
Esau hasn’t been caught stealing once through 31 games.
“It’s interesting because everyone pretty much knows it’s coming,” she said. “Even if it’s not the first or second pitch, it kinda keeps them guessing. We have a lot of different plays to move runners into scoring position and that way we’re not stuck at first.”
Goss isn’t just sending Esau. Her team ranks third in the NAIA with 2.94 stolen bases per game, and are eighth in the country in total stolen bases with 91.
Esau feels that the future of the program looks bright with the improvement the team has made from last season. She also believes, their forward momentum will keep them moving towards possible conference championships and national tournament berths.
The Lady Ravens and Esau will be in action next against Evangel University for a Strikeout Breast Cancer double-header at home Apr. 18.