Today: Jun 17, 2024

Downs ready to start season

photo courtesy | Senior captain Alyssa Downs

Mackenzie Hurlbert – General Assignment Reporter

photo courtesy | southernctowls.comSenior captain Alyssa Downs
photo courtesy |
Senior captain Alyssa Downs

Owls softball third baseman Alyssa Downs is preparing for another big year as she enters her senior year at Southern. Last year, Downs had a successful 2012 season and won multiple awards including recognition as Daktronics All-American, All-Region, All-ECAC and Northeast-10 All-Conference honors. This upcoming season looks promising for Downs and the team, but Downs said it will be important to gain momentum early on.

“For this season we need to come into it strong,” said Downs. “We need to stay focused on playing as a team and being one on the field. As long as we do that, I feel that we can accomplish anything.”

Downs’ success last season topped the charts as she finished the year with a .333 batting average, 16 home runs and 62 RBI’s, the highest single season RBI total in school history, according to the Southern Athletics website. These statistics earned her the top spot in the Northeast-10 Conference for RBI’s and second in home runs.

With such impressive statistics, Downs’ dedication has obviously paid off.

“I enjoy softball because you are getting challenged every day out on the field,” said Downs.  “You meet new people, have new experiences on-and-off the field, traveling to different areas while playing a sport you enjoy to play.  Being out on the field is just a part of me, it’s inside of me and it is who I am.”

Downs has a long history playing softball and found many inspirational role models along the way.

“I have been playing softball as long as I can remember. [When] I was about five years old my parents got me into tee ball because they used to play,” she said. “I would say I have a few role models in my life. The first ones would be my parents for getting my started in this sport and always being at every game, cheering me on no matter where I played.  They would drive me to any state and always encouraged me to do my best.”

“My biggest role model,” Downs said, “is my older sister Nicole Downs who also played softball. When I was younger I always looked up to her and went to all of her games when she played, she made me want to become a better player, and she always pushed me to try harder and never give up.  She is a great person on-and-off the field and taught me not only about the sport but how to act through good sportsmanship.”

“I have been the starter at third base since my freshman year and have played there every year since,” said Downs. “I have enjoyed every second of playing softball in college. I have been active my whole life so to be able to keep playing a sport that I love in college has definitely been a great experience.  Being able to meet new people and create the memories, while having so much success over these past years has been amazing.”

Head coach Lisa Barbaro had nothing but praise for Downs’ talents on the field.

“Alyssa is the one of the best defensive third baseman I have coached, and I believe the best third baseman in the East region,” said Barbaro. “She is our top defender in the infield, with great range, footwork, and a strong arm.  She is a leader among our infield, and our team is confident she will make all her plays. Alyssa’s defensive performances have been key in our programs success the past three seasons. She has shut down some of the best lefty slappers in Division II.”

Barbaro described Downs as a “fierce competitor.”

“She is one of those players, who has stepped up in pressure situations for our team and completely changed the moment of the game. There are so many highlights in her career whether it was defensively or offensively.  She is the one you want the ball to be hit at in a close game, and she is the one you want up to bat.”

Alyssa’s personal highlights of her career so far included the team’s major achievement of this past season. “My greatest achievement was last year winning Super Regionals and going to the World Series for Division II.  Being the first softball to team to make it that far and be able to play in that kind of atmosphere was the greatest experience I have ever had playing this sport.”

Reflecting on other past achievements, Barbaro remembered one of Down’s game-changing plays from the 2011 season. “One of my fondest memories occurred in 2011 season in the NCAA Division II Regional Championship when we were down three runs versus Merrimack College in the bottom of the seventh.  Our team was facing elimination with two outs and Alyssa up to bat with bases loaded. She hit a grand-slam to win the game.”

“I believe we will have another successful season,” said Barbaro when considering the upcoming season. “We have a young pitching staff, but a very good pitching staff that I believe will do well with the veteran infield behind them and our strong bats. Alyssa’s experience and overall success the past three season will only make us stronger this season…I am really proud of this senior class and all they have accomplished individually and as a team in three seasons.  They have made this program and the university proud and hold records that probably will not be broken for some time.”

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