Nazareth softball trio signs letters of intent

Sign me up: (Left-right) Jill Bovitt (Bing­hamton Uni­versity), Brit­tany Colombo (Mar­ist Col­lege) and Taylor Lichten­hahn (Uni­versity of the Sci­ences) sign their na­tion­al let­ters of in­tent to play col­legi­ate soft­ball. ED MOR­RONE / TIMES PHOTO

For Jill Bovitt, Brit­tany Colombo and Taylor Lichten­hahn, they wanted to sign on the dot­ted line to­geth­er. Now that they’ve ac­com­plished that, they can shift their fo­cus in­to do­ing something else spe­cial as one: win states.

The Naz­areth Academy soft­ball trio signed na­tion­al let­ters of in­tent in the school gym­nas­i­um last Thursday af­ter­noon, with coaches, fam­ily, team­mates, stu­dents and teach­ers on hand for sup­port. Bovitt (Bing­hamton Uni­versity) and Colombo (Mar­ist Col­lege) will head north to New York in the fall, while Lichten­hahn will stay loc­al and at­tend the Uni­versity of the Sci­ences. 

All three have been in­teg­ral parts of three con­sec­ut­ive AACA con­fer­ence cham­pi­on­ship teams for the highly suc­cess­ful Panda soft­ball pro­gram. After a run to the state semi­finals in 2013 (the farthest Naz­areth has ever ad­vanced in the state tour­na­ment), all three play­ers ex­pressed re­lief that their col­lege de­cisions were fi­nal­ized. While their class­mates hec­tic­ally fig­ure out their own col­lege plans, Bovitt, Colombo and Lichten­hahn can con­cen­trate on en­joy­ing the rest of their seni­or year while try­ing to cap­ture those elu­sive state rings.

“It’s still kind of sur­real, kind of like when something you’ve waited forever for fi­nally hap­pens,” Bovitt said. “It’s great to know that everything I’ve worked so hard for has paid off, and while every­one’s ap­ply­ing for col­lege, I don’t have to worry about that. It’s a huge weight off my back.”

“It’s one of the best feel­ings in the world, I can’t even de­scribe it,” Colombo said. “I’m just so thank­ful for every­one who got me here today. It’s awe­some to be here with these girls, and I wouldn’t want to sign with any­one else.”

“It feels so good, be­cause now we don’t have to worry about be­ing seen by coaches or scouts,” Lichten­hahn ad­ded. “Now, I can just fo­cus on hav­ing fun and win­ning states with my team.”

The Pan­das went 23-3 in 2013, win­ning the con­fer­ence and dis­trict titles be­fore be­ing among the fi­nal four teams out of 161 in Pennsylvania Class AAA soft­ball. In the last four sea­sons, Naz­areth has won 81 out of a total 89 games. 

Bovitt (shortstop), Colombo (third base) and Lichten­hahn (pitch­er) have had a large hand in the pro­gram’s suc­cesses the last three years, and each will enter the 2014 sea­son as four-year starters. They will be fa­vor­ites to win their eighth straight con­fer­ence title.

“Now, we have the state taste in our mouths,” said Lichten­hahn, whose love of chem­istry and as­pir­a­tions to be­come a phar­macist led her to the Uni­versity of the Sci­ences. “We were so close last sea­son, so we want to go back.”

“Our team can’t wait to get back to­geth­er,” Colombo said. “We’re already work­ing out and talk­ing about it. We want to win an­oth­er cham­pi­on­ship, then get an­oth­er shot in states. We are so ready to go right now.”

And des­pite be­ing signed, sealed and de­livered to their re­spect­ive col­leges, the trio still wants to make sure it en­joys every last ounce of its seni­or year. That in­cludes soft­ball and en­joy­ing whatever time is left with class­mates, friends and the teach­ers who have come to mean so much to them.

“I know I’ll nev­er for­get any­one that I met here,” Bovitt said. “With this team, and in­side this school, bonds were cre­ated that I nev­er thought would hap­pen. The school it­self has really grown on me, and right about now I really don’t want to leave. It’s home.

“You come in as a fresh­man and you think you can’t wait to be done so you can go to col­lege and start your life. By seni­or year, it starts to dwindle, and you see the days come and go, I guess it’s kind of rough and sur­real. It’s a great feel­ing to know I’ll have a dip­loma from Naz­areth Academy, and at the same time start­ing a new chapter of my life while clos­ing one here. It’s not a bad prob­lem to have.” ••

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