UR Softball achieved its four-hundredth All-Time victory on Tuesday afternoon, as they swept Fredonia in a double-header. Leading up to the historic win for the ‘Jackets, junior pitcher and third basewoman Eleni Wechsler achieved three wins last week along with going a combined 4–6 at the plate against Clarkson on April 17. Wechsler has struck out 73 batters this season along with maintaining an ERA of 2.58.
When did you know that softball would become your sport? What was your earliest memory of the game?
Softball has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As soon as I was able to stand on my own, my parents had me in front of a tee, bat in hand. I remember being outside for hours at a time hitting whiffle after whiffle off that tee. I started tee ball when I was four years old and haven’t stopped playing since. I never really felt the need to pick up another sport because softball was always the sport that had occupied so much of my time, and was something I was passionate about from an early age.
Who has inspired you the most throughout your softball career, and why?
My parents have always been my main source of inspiration throughout my career. They both thoroughly enjoy sports and never stopped encouraging me to work harder and be better—not only in softball, but in all aspects of life. They have been my biggest supporters and have sacrificed so much of their own time and energy to make sure I could pursue my interests, and I will never be able to thank them enough for that.
UR Softball has won five straight games after beginning the season 4–8. What has changed, and how has the team adapted to the adversity it was handed?
We knew that we were going to be playing the toughest games of our season early on and went into our UAA tournament knowing it would be our time to prove ourselves. We may not have had the best record in Florida, but we learned a lot about both our strengths and weakness as a team and we spent the following weeks building upon where we were weak. We are a completely different team now, compared to the team we were at the beginning of the season, and I couldn’t be more proud of the strides we have made. We are finally playing as a team, and I think a lot of the stress we were putting on each other to perform has finally subsided and we are just enjoying the sport.
In Sunday’s double header against Clarkson, you went 4–6 and even pitched one of those games. How does it feel to be a hitting pitcher and “beat” typical stigmas given to players in your position?
I’ve always prided myself on being a well-rounded player. Pitching hasn’t always been my primary position, but hitting has always been my favorite part of the game. Hitting also came very naturally to me, so I never really felt the stigma associated with non-hitting pitchers. I’m just happy to contribute to my team’s success in as many aspects as possible.
In light of Sarah Hudek being the first female to achieve a win in college baseball, what do you think of Pittsburgh Pirates Skipper Clint Hurdle saying that he “believes firmly there is going to be a day where there is a female player in the big leagues?” Also, what do you hope for women within your sport and even potentially in MLB?
There is no doubt in my mind that women could compete in the big leagues. I guess the main obstacle for women, in that sense, is how very different baseball and softball are. The structure of the game is similar, but there are so many aspects that are played in such different ways between the two sports. It would be a tough transition from a softball career to a baseball career, but I think a talented enough athlete could achieve it. Softball has grown so much as a sport in the past 20 years, and I can only see it getting more and more popular, coinciding with the standards of play getting higher and higher.
Would you rather race around the bases against Jacoby Ellsbury or compete in a sing-off against Jennie Finch?
That’s definitely a tough question because I’m not even seemingly fast and I also have a sub-par singing voice. Forced to make the choice, I would definitely choose the sing-off, though —embellishing with my “stellar” dance moves, of course.