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.” ••