Before every game, softball head coach Dick Blood must decide on a batting order and a defensive alignment for the Red. Last year, the arrival of then-freshman infielder Alyson Intihar, who ended up playing at all four infield positions last season, may have added some confusion to the decision process. But any confusion Intihar may have caused, she made up for by hitting third all season and playing her way to team co-MVP honors as a rookie.
Versatile in the infield and at the plate, Intihar led the team in home runs, slugging, RBIs, walks, total bases and even hit-by-pitches. According to Intihar, however, the way she ended the year was very different from how it started.
“When I came here, my swing was pretty atrocious,” Intihar said. “I had a lot of things to work on, and I was pretty aware of that. Over the winter, I just busted my tail and did what the coaches said and paid attention to how the other players were playing.”
Despite a shaky start, the coaching staff remained confident that Intihar would be able to turn it around, and at season’s end, the decision to stick with the freshman from Zelienople, Pa., paid off.
“We knew she’s a driven young lady, and she was a star at the level she played at over the summer,” Blood said. “Last year, she got out to a slow start in the three-hole, but we had confidence that she’d turn it around, and she did. She’s started this year pretty strong in the three-hole and we expect that she’ll continue to do the same.”
Continuing to do the same would certainly not be a bad plan. As one of only two members on the team to start all 22 games this season, Intihar is second for the Red with a .382 average, up from .351 last season, and she leads the Red with six doubles. Her power numbers may not be leading the Red right now, but if last year is any indication, Intihar is just getting started.
“I think the way I look at each game and each at bat; you’re going in with a blank slate and starting over,” Intihar said. “I don’t think about the numbers at all. I don’t check stats or numbers until the end of the season. I don’t think that’s something you should get caught up in. Numbers won’t show how you’re doing against the competition — give it your all and prove it on the field.”
After helping the Red to a third consecutive second-place finish last season, Intihar may be exactly what the Red needs to return to the championship form from its 2004 season. With enough on his mind just trying to decide where to play her in the infield, Blood will likely let Intihar do more damage from the three-hole again this season.
“This year we have a couple people batting the ball really hard and hopefully they’ll keep doing that, but Allie’s right at the forefront of hitting the ball, so she’s probably going to stay in the three hole for a while,” Blood said. “Hopefully forever.”