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Five Tips For First-Year College Softball Players

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(Photo by Duke Athletics)

Duke junior pitcher Jala Wright knows a thing or two about what it's like to start anew.

Not only did Wright experience freshman year as a college softball player, which took place for her at Michigan State University, but she also started fresh at Duke University as a sophomore transfer last spring.

Wright, who pitched in 27 games with 19 starts, a 13-5 record and a 2.09 ERA in 2022 for the Blue Devils, is a fall intern for Softball America this year. She took some time to offer tips for first-year college softball players who are currently starting their new journeys around the country.

See below for Wright's advice.

You’ve accomplished a lifelong goal every softball-playing little girl dreams of—furthering your softball and academic career at the college level. The endless workouts, games and memories have helped you get to this point. Be proud. This goal is not accomplished by all, but this is just step one in your new journey.

You may have chosen to travel two hours away from home for college or all the way across the country. Regardless, your emotions are high and you are about to begin one of the most important phases of your life.

Here's what you need to know.

1. Manage your time

I know you’ve probably heard this numerous times before, but what you're hearing is true. Time management is one of the most crucial aspects of your career as a student-athlete. All the homework, projects, practices, individual meetings, etc. will feel like a big weight on your shoulders.

The solution to the inevitable stress you will feel is maintaining a calendar. At the beginning of each month, week or even day, write down what you have to complete. This will ease your mind, as you will be able to see the tasks in front of you. To take it a step further, carve out a block of time to complete each task. Once you write it down, stick to it. Life will happen and it may mess up your schedule, but if it does not, get into a good flow of being efficient and on time.

2. Ask for help

There’s going to come a point in time when you feel completely lost and overwhelmed, whether that's in practice, the classroom or mentally. But all the resources you need are at your disposal. All you have to do is ask for help. Tutors are willing to work around your busy schedule to help you. Coaches love pouring their knowledge into you. Your teammates, sports psychologist or even your mom will be there to console you if you want to have a good cry.

Playing on a higher level is supposed to be challenging, but it's not supposed to cause you to lose yourself. Help will come when you ask for it.

3. Keep your academics first

Remember, if you do not get it done in the classroom, there’s no way you will be able to compete on the field. You are a student-athlete, and the word student comes first. The first year of college is going to be the easiest academically, so why not take advantage of it and pass with flying colors?

Turn in your assignments before the deadline, make acquaintances with your professors and be early to all your classes. The more you pour into your studies, the easier it will be to ball out on the field.

4. It’s okay to take someone’s spot

So what if you're just a freshman? No spot is guaranteed. A junior who has played most innings during her career can still lose her spot to a freshman with more grit. This type of effort will make your team better and also remind your coaches why they brought you to their program in the first place.

5. Have fun while learning who you are

At the end of the day, you are a person first. College is going to be some of the best years of your life. You will learn so many lessons about who you are as a person that will dictate what your future will become, so say yes more than no. One yes may change your life in the best way.

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