How Emma Ritter Became An All-American
Virginia Tech outfielder Emma Ritter proved last spring that she is one of the best college softball players in the country.
Ritter had a breakout sophomore year in 2022, during which she batted .400 with 66 hits, 40 RBIs and eight home runs, while only striking out six times. Her spectacular season earned her a First-Team All-ACC honor, among several others, including a spot on Softball America's Third-Team All-America squad.
But Ritter's freshman season was a bit of a different story. As a freshman in 2021, she batted .257 with 27 hits, 15 RBIs and two home runs.
So, what helped Ritter make such a huge jump from her freshman to sophomore year? According to her, she slightly altered her approach to the game.
“We did a lot of the same drills and our workout program was relatively similar,” Ritter told Softball America. “But my coach really emphasized that my approach to softball needed to be less mechanical. So last year, it was more telling myself to hit the ball hard and have good at-bats, as opposed to doing A, B and C so my swing looked perfect.”
Another huge factor for Ritter was the change to her mental approach.
“My freshman year, I became so obsessed with living up to the standards that I created for myself and that I thought others had for me,“ Ritter admitted. “I stopped having any fun with the game. There were times when I just so badly wanted to quit. I’m sure most athletes have felt that way before.”
During her sophomore year, Ritter's faith also began to deepen, and that is what really changed her outlook on softball and life in general.
“I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to perform and I just tried to use the gifts God gave to me however I could each day,” Ritter said. “This took off a lot of the pressure that I had on myself. I was more capable of playing for fun and to stop pressing so hard for results like I did freshman year.”
Because of her new outlook on softball, the game did slow down for Ritter during the 2022 season, which saw the Hokies come within one win of a Women's College World Series appearance.
Going into the 2023 campaign, Ritter has even more confidence than she did last season, especially now that she is an All-American.
“Honestly, I didn’t really understand what it meant to be an All-American, and I still really don’t,“ Ritter said. “But I am so, so grateful for the title, and it felt awesome that the hard work paid off.”
After learning to love the game again and having the most successful season of her life to date, the junior is now ready to do her thing on the softball field once again with the Hokies starting in February.
“After you have years under your belt, there is naturally going to be a pressure that gets lifted off of your shoulders,” Ritter said. “This new comfort I’ve found has allowed me to appreciate each game more and to actually let go and have fun.”