Seton Hall softball team finds connections and inspiration with their favorite professional athletes

The Texas Rangers got off to a slow start in the 2011 World Series against Saint Louis and the hopes of capturing their first title in franchise history seemed much slimmer following their disastrous 16-7 loss in game three.

Things started to look brighter for the Rangers after taking games four and five against the Cards, but the team couldn’t overcome the dominance of Chris Carpenter on the mound or David Freese at the plate. Texas had to settle as American League Champions for a second straight season, but one of the series highlights and most memorable moments for the Rangers came in the bottom of the sixth inning in game five in Arlington.

Trailing 2-1 with two outs, third baseman Adrian Beltré stepped into the batter’s box and did what he does best: clutch hitting with flare as he hit the game-tying home run to left-center on an 0-1 count from his knees.

On April 24 against Lehigh, Seton Hall softball catcher Katherine Matthys got up to bat in the sixth inning and also swung from her knees, but unlike Beltré, Matthys struck out swinging to end the frame.

“Well, I feel like I looked like him on that last strikeout because I swung from a knee,” Matthys said with a laugh following the team’s 6-0 loss to the Mountain Hawks.

Matthys and her teammates have been playing softball throughout their lives, but have also found inspiration and encouragement, and draw parallels with athletes playing professionally in different leagues in addition to players in Major League Baseball.

The junior from Spring Branch, Texas reveres Beltré for his dedication to baseball and enjoyed the amusement that he brought to the game. “He [had] so much fun with [Rangers shortstop] Elvis Andrus and he’s just someone you could tell that he didn’t want to retire,” Matthys said. “He’s one of those people that loved being out on the field and that’s something I want to do as well.”

Katherine Matthys’ favorite athletes include Adrian Beltré and Serena Williams.

In addition to Beltré, Matthys finds similarities with Serena Williams as they both have been through injuries throughout their careers, but battled to get back into the game. She also admires Williams for breaking barriers in tennis and outside of the sport and as well as “the grace she has on the court and [her] competitiveness is very inspirational,” Matthys said.

From the tennis court to basketball court, sophomore Baylee Allender’s favorite athlete is also arguably one of the greatest athletes on the planet: Lakers forward LeBron James. Allender likes the way he carries himself and that “he prides himself in what he does on off the court just as much or even more than he does [on the court].”

For Allender, her sister and former Creighton outfielder Kelsey Allender comes in at a close second to James as the first baseman’s favorite athlete. “[Kelsey] always worked really hard and did everything she was supposed to do so I just like to following her footsteps,” Allender said.

Like Matthys, Allender also hails from Texas, but watched the New York Yankees and admired their shortstop Derek Jeter growing up. “He was just a phenomenal athlete so I like to think I’m pretty athletic,” Allender said.

Even when Jeter wasn’t producing, Allender liked the fact that he was able to “bounce back from different struggles.”

On the other hand, for their teammate Reganne Camp, baseball is out of the picture. “Major League Baseball? To be honest with you, I don’t watch baseball at all,” Camp said.

Camp’s favorite athlete is former Philadelphia Eagle and NFL Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins and connects with his love for the game. “He’s a passionate player and I’m a very passionate player so I appreciate him in how he plays,” Camp said.

With one three-game series against Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska, she finds that her team can also adopt Dawkins’ philosophy and also stay passionate in addition to “staying really into the game emotionally and mentally being strong.”

The Rangers started the World Series with a few rough games, but they pushed the series to seven and still played with the same passion and intensity that Camp wants to emulate in her team.

The Seton Hall softball team started their season 0-4 and went on a five game losing streak starting at the end of February until early March, but the team has bounced back to practically even out their record to 22-23 and still has hopes of making the postseason.

“We’re in a good spot to make the postseason which we haven’t done since I’ve been here so there’s so much hype around the team right now,” Matthys said. “We’re so excited to be here and just stoked for the next two weeks to see if we can pull it out.”

Andrea Keppler can be reached at or on Twitter @keppler_andrea.