“’Attitudes are contagious.’ One person with a bad attitude can ruin a lot. It’s a strong reminder to always stay positive and always be a good teammate and player.”
Senior starting pitcher Amy Bright was asked about the best advice she has ever been given. Bright has this mindset before going into every game and it helps her succeed on the mound.
“Amy is awesome,” assistant coach Bridget Hurlman said. “She definitely always wants the ball. She’s our number one. She definitely owns that mound and we are lucky to have her.”
Two MAAC All Academic Team selections and three MAAC Pitcher of the Week awards are just some of Bright’s accomplishments at Manhattan and in softball altogether. She has been posting great numbers over the years and this season as well, including a 2.68 ERA and 14-7 record. Now preparing for the playoffs for the last time, she looked back at her four years on the team.
“MAACs last year were definitely the best,” Bright said about her favorite memory. “We came in and we were 6th place. We won three games in a row. It was so awesome. It was definitely the coolest thing.”
Back to back shutouts and a streak of 15 scoreless innings. This is just one highlight from Bright’s career at Manhattan. This happened on a trip to California earlier this season in March where the team played opponents including Brown and UC Santa Barbara. Despite their 2-4 record out there, Manhattan had some important competition to get prepared for MAAC play and Bright led the team to an overall successful trip, earning her second Pitcher of the Week title.
“The pitchers of the week awards are really awesome,” Bright said. “It’s great to be recognized and having two of them this season was really cool.” I don’t really think about it while I’m playing. It was really fun to be out there. When I finished that second game and still hadn’t given up a run, I realized what I had done and it was really cool.”
“Amy has done an amazing job of really putting this team on her shoulders,” catcher Elena Bowman said. “She comes out every start with the same fire and the same intensity. It’s going to be a big loss for us. We are really going to miss not only her physical presence but especially her emotional presence and the way she leads us.”
Bright began playing softball at the age of 8. While she played other sports as well growing up, her focus became softball. She said that one person who has influenced her as a player over the years is her pitching coach growing up. He was her pitching coach from when she first started playing through the years until she went off to college. Seeing him two or three times a week for practice or games, he became a big influence on Bright as a person and a player.
“He taught me a lot about the game, the physical and mental stuff,” Bright said.
Every team and every player improve and develop each time they step on to the field or court. By the time someone gets to their senior season, they are able to look back on their time as a player, noticing their strengths and weaknesses and how they have improved over the years. One of Bright’s improvements has become noticeable as she took her position as starting pitcher and one of the leaders of the team.
“I used to get rattled very easily,” Bright said. “I did not keep my composure when I was a freshman and even younger. As I’ve grown and worked with Bridget and Elena and my team, I have so much more confidence in the team. I am able to stay focused on the mound and stay positive. That has been a huge change. From freshman to senior year, that has definitely been the biggest change.”
Something that is crucial to a successful softball team is the relationship between the pitcher and catcher. They need to have strong communication and to be able to understand each other in order to win the game. Despite being completely different positions with different responsibilities, these two players need to be on the same page and have the same game plan. This has been a key to Bright’s success and the team’s success so far this season.
“We work really well together,” Bowman said. “One thing we really pride ourselves on is always being on the same page. We work a lot in bullpens and spend a lot of time together to make sure that we are always going with the same approach at batters. I would say as far as that relationship goes, we are close because we work together so often and so well together.”
“Each game is different,” Bright said, “the teams are different. Elena and I talk before the games. We always have a game plan and talk about specific people. We’ve seen these people multiple times, so we know what we are going to do. Mentally, when you go in, it is nice to know when you are starting and you can get that game plan.”
With the regular season coming to a close, the Jaspers are preparing for the upcoming MAAC tournament and now is the time to shine. After making it last season for the first time since 2011, Manhattan has goals set for this season and so does Bright. Along with the three other seniors on the team, Bright is making the most of her final games as a Jasper.
“Her senior season is important to her,” Coach Hurlman said. “She’s trying to put her best foot out there for her team and do her job in the circle.”
The team stands at 25-16 overall and 13-5 in the MAACs. They are tied for first place in the conference and the team is prepared to achieve their goals going into the tournament because, for some, it is their final opportunity.
“As a senior, it’s the last chance,” Bright said. “I came into this season knowing I had nothing to lose and that this was it. The four of us have put everything into this season. If we are going to win, this is going to be the year. You go into every game knowing that.”