Welcome to the Team: First-year softball players tee-off

First-years Olivia Roberts, Erin Clark, Katie Petran, Leigh Vance Hei and Makena Alexander join Butler softball. Photos by Riina Korri.

JULIA LORELLI | STAFF REPORTER | jlorelli@butler.edu 

“Welcome to the Team” is a Q&A series where the Collegian sits down with student-athletes who are entering their first season at Butler University. These articles will address why they chose Butler, what they hope to get out of their first season and some personal tidbits that you won’t find anywhere else

This week, staff reporter Julia Lorelli sat down with the five first-year players who are playing for the Butler softball team:

Erin Clark is a 5’8” outfielder from Noblesville, Indiana. 

THE BUTLER COLLEGIAN: When did you first discover softball? 

ERIN CLARK: I started playing softball when I was like 6. My parents just signed me up for the rec league near my house, so [I started] pretty early. 

TBC: When did you realize you want to continue playing at a collegiate level? 

EC: Probably my freshman year of high school is when I started to get serious about looking at colleges and figuring out what I wanted. I started going to a lot more college camps, and that’s when I realized that it’s something that I wanted to do. 

TBC: Were there any professional softball players that you were able to look up to growing up? 

EC: I wouldn’t say there’s one in particular. I’d always say it was fun watching the older girls and look up to them. But if I had to pick somebody that I looked up to the most, probably my dad and my grandpa. They played slowpitch softball, and my dad played baseball his whole life. So honestly just wanting to be like them is [my] main thing. 

TBC: What made you want to be an outfielder? 

EC: It’s what I’ve done since high school. I was a middle infielder most of my life until high school, and it’s just where I fit in best with the teams that I’ve been on. 

TBC: What about the Butler culture stood out to you and made you want to come here? 

EC: The people, overall, were super welcoming. Once I got here, I knew the people beforehand, and coming to so many Butler camps, the people stood out, and I was able to talk to them all beforehand. One of them actually went to my high school, and she’s always been a role model to me. I’ve worked out with her for years. And I’ve [gotten] to know so many of the girls at camps and stuff, and they were all just so awesome. 

TBC: Is there anything specific about the softball team that resonated with you when you first joined? 

EC: I would say it fits what I’ve been about my entire life, just the morals and the support that the people give and just how everybody works so hard and wants to be there for the teammates. It’s just been amazing. 

TBC: What’s something that you always have in your bag? 

EC: I actually have a bag of a bunch of stuff that I’ve just acquired over my years of softball. There was a coach that I had in travel [softball] that always would give out little reminders. If we were struggling especially, she would come up with little things. For example, we have little note cards that she gave us. There’s one note card that I have in my bag that has my “why” on it, and basically why I do what I do, and it’s always something that if I need a good reminder, then I’ll just look at that. 

Olivia Roberts is a 5’2” utility player from Greenfield, Indiana

THE BUTLER COLLEGIAN: When did you first discover softball? 

OLIVIA ROBERTS: Probably when I was 4 or 5, I started playing t-ball with my older brother. 

TBC: Did he have any influence on you wanting to continue to play at the collegiate level? 

OR: Definitely. My parents coached the t-ball team, and he coached a couple of my teams growing up, and they really pushed me to want to continue to play. 

TBC: With starting at such a young age, you probably had your pick of positions.

What made you want to be an outfielder? 

OR: Right now I’m a utility. So I play a lot of infield and outfield, and growing up I’ve played a lot of both. I guess I’m fast, which is good for the outfield, and then I’ve always loved being an infielder. So I’ve played both my entire life. 

TBC: What made you want to become a physician assistant? 

OR: My mom and both my grandmas are in the healthcare field. So, I wanted to do something in the healthcare field, but I also didn’t want to go to school for a really long time. So with [physician assistant] it’s only two extra years of grad school, and I can specialize in anything, so I can really do anything with that. 

TBC: Do you have any idea what you would want to specialize in? 

OR: I’m thinking right now OB/GYN. But who knows? That could change. 

TBC: Also on your bio, it said that you were looking for a small community feel at Butler. How has that lived up to your expectations? 

OR: It really has. I see people that I’ve had first semester classes with everywhere. I’m still friends with people that I’ve had class with during my first semester. You see everybody on campus on your way from class to class. I just really like that. 

TBC: If you can only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

OR: Probably pasta or spaghetti. 

Katie Petran is a 5’4” pitcher from Chillicothe, Illinois

THE BUTLER COLLEGIAN: When did you first discover softball? 

KATIE PETRAN: My parents discovered that I wanted to play softball when I was around 6, and I’ve been playing ever since. 

TBC: At what point did you realize you might play at a collegiate level? 

KP: When I started watching college softball on TV when I was around 11 or 12, I really liked what I was seeing, and I enjoyed playing, so that’s when I knew I wanted to take it to the next level. 

TBC: Were there any players you looked up to when you started watching college ball? 

KP: I looked up to Michele Smith. I actually wore her number up [until] college because I read about her when I was in fourth grade and I just knew who she was and I just really looked up to her. Other than that, I’m watching Kelly Barnhill and Paige Parker on TV. 

TBC: Did Smith inspire you to be a pitcher? 

KP: [Smith] was a pitcher too, so I always just looked up to her. I found that really cool. And also, Barnhill and Parker, who I watched on TV when I was little, were also pitchers. 

TBC: If you know that you’re starting pitching, does your routine during the day look any different? 

KP: No, I pretty much do the exact same thing. I don’t want to make myself more amped up than I have to, so I just try to do everything the same. I have regular superstitions, but when it comes to pitching, there’s no specific superstition that I do differently if I am or if I’m not pitching. 

TBC: What kind of superstitions? 

KP: My hair has to be the exact same. If I am in a little dry spell, I have to change my hair in order to get out of the dry spell, obviously. I have to eat Skittles before games. Everything that I wear has to be the same, like everything I wear under my uniforms, my jewelry, my hair, my everything. 

TBC: What’s your favorite or best pitch? 

KP: I would say my rise ball. I really like throwing my rise ball. It’s a pitch that goes up, and it’s supposed to start at a hitter’s mid-thigh, and then it goes up towards their head. 

TBC: Which famous athlete would you like to be best friends with? 

KP: Jennie Finch because she was also another pitcher. She pitched a lot a long time ago. But  the way she carried herself [with confidence] is the way I present myself and I carry myself on the field. I feel like we would get along, and I would learn a lot from her. 

Leigh Vande Hei is a 5’4” outfielder from St. Charles, Illinois

THE BUTLER COLLEGIAN: When did you first discover softball? 

LEIGH VANDE HEI: I started when I was like 4 years old because my older sister always played, and she’s three years older. 

TBC: When did you realize that you could play at the collegiate level? 

LVH: Honestly, I kind of realized that pretty young. I’d say probably around sixth grade. I always wanted to [when] I saw NCAA softball and how fun it was. 

TBC: Did you have any softball role models to look up to? 

LVH: I was really obsessed with Jennie Finch. She was an amazing softball player, but I really enjoyed watching her and watching her press conferences after games and representing Team USA and all that. 

TBC: Was your sister any inspiration to you to keep playing? 

LVH: Definitely. My sister is good at sports and piano and stuff. She has always pushed me to be better because she was always better than me because she was so much older. She always understood obviously [that] I was younger [and that] I wasn’t as good, so she always kind of pushed me to be better and was there to help me. 

TBC: Did you want to play a different position than your sister? 

LVH: I used to play some second base. I was in the outfield, most of my life. I do like it better. It was originally just because I was faster. And so typically, like at that age, if you’re quick, they put you in the outfield. But I really just came to like it. I just like the pace out there and being able to lock down the field. I just have always enjoyed it. 

TBC: Do you have any superstitions before a game? 

LVH: I have a lot of superstitions. I usually like to have my energy drink before. Me and Erin [Clark] take some pictures. I like doing that. We just do a lot as a team. As outfielders, we kind of have our own handshakes and our own sayings. I think college-wise those are kind of my superstitions [right] now. 

Makena Alexander is a 5’ 9” infielder from Frankton, Indiana

THE BUTLER COLLEGIAN: When did you first discover softball? 

MAKENA ALEXANDER: I first started softball when I was around 4 or 5 years old playing for a little [in] my hometown league. 

TBC: Why did you decide you want to continue playing at the collegiate level? 

MA: I decided I wanted to play collegiate level softball when I was around, I’d say, like fifth, sixth grade. That’s when it really kicked in. And I was like, maybe I could actually go to school and play this sport. 

TBC: Did your siblings have any impact on you playing growing up? 

MA: My older brother played baseball, and he kind of pushed me into playing baseball as well with him for a little league team. So that sort of kind of brought me into the sport. 

TBC: Did he have any impact on you wanting to be an infielder? Or was that something you came to on your own? 

MA: I’ve kind of played just about everywhere, but I tend to think that I enjoy infield the most, so shortstop and third base are definitely my favorite positions. 

TBC: You played a lot of other sports in high school. What made softball stand out among them? 

MA: That was just the one I enjoyed the most, and I found myself to be pretty good at it, and it was never really like a chore to play or anything like that. I just always enjoyed it. It was always my favorite. 

TBC: How has Butler softball helped you achieve your goals? 

MA: My main goal was to play collegiate softball, and coming here and getting a really high-quality education while playing softball really just gave me everything I really wanted. 

TBC: Would you rather live underwater or in space, and why? 

MA: Considering we know more about space than we do about our ocean, and stuff like that, I think I’d probably choose [living in] space. 


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