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The Diary Of A College Softball Player - A Fresh Start

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(Photo by Duke Athletics)

Hello, readers! I would like to reintroduce myself now as an official 21-year-old. I turned 21 on Friday, April 14. A fun fact about me is that I have always celebrated my birthday on a softball field. I can’t remember a birthday when I didn't have a softball game, practice or even watched it on TV. I bet when I turn 60, I’ll be at baseball or softball games for my grandkids.

To kick off the new milestone, the team and I were in Boston to compete against the Boston College Eagles. It all started Friday on the best day of my year. I got to sleep in until 9 a.m., which rarely ever happens. All my college softball girls know sleeping in is a non-existent reality in this lifestyle. My parents came to the hotel before the game with balloons, candy, cards and tears. My mom was a wreck as soon as she saw me. She’s a big crybaby, though, so I expected nothing less. My father was grinning from ear to ear and joking about how he no longer had to take care of me. It was a whirlwind of happy tears, excitement and love.

At 4 p.m., our game commenced. I was honored to get the start. Things went well until the 4th inning. I gave up a three-run home run, unfortunately. I guess Boston College didn’t want me to have too much fun on my birthday. When I saw the ball go over the fence, all I kept saying to myself was, “Really, Jala? On your birthday, of all days.” Anyway, my team had my back and we still got the win, 6-4. To end the day, I had a delicious steak at dinner with my parents. Day 1 of my 21st year was one to remember!

To end the weekend, my team got the series sweep. The third game was a nail-biter, as the score remained 2-2 all the way until the 9th inning. We prevailed, but the pressure felt surreal throughout those seven scoreless innings. We learned a lot in key moments during that game that could’ve shaped the score differently, but with adversity comes powerful lessons. I believe we have experienced enough in-game pressure that will serve us well when the lights are brightest this May.

Speaking of May, it's crazy that the postseason is only a mere three weeks away! I can see the ACC Tournament, regionals, super regionals and the Women's College World Series in the horizon. I am excited for what's to come because we have put ourselves in a great position to truly come out on top. Due to experiencing last year's super regionals at UCLA, I know the home field advantage is real. The crowd at UCLA was the biggest I had ever played in front of. The constant UCLA cheers and fans gave the Bruins a spark that we could never have had. This year, we have the potential to feel that spark.

Furthermore, I am an avid believer in manifestations. I have been manifesting my butt off. There is a picture of the Women’s College World Series emblem above my bed. I look at it every day and envision my team in Oklahoma City during the first week of June on the grandest softball stage of them all.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but our goal is to play to our standards down the homestretch and go into the postseason with next-level confidence. I am privileged to be a part of this team's success and witness our growth firsthand. However, we must take it one game at a time to ensure we come out on top and achieve our goals. And we are definitely on the right track.

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The Diary Of A College Softball Player - Season Reflections

Duke junior pitcher Jala Wright reflects on the season that was and looks ahead to next year.

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