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MAKING YOUR OWN LUCK WITH TRINITY SOFTBALL SENIOR MADDIE SPENCER-ORRELL

Trinity College softball senior captain Maddie Spencer-Orrell is no stranger to perseverance. A student-athlete who spent most of her final collegiate year juggling two theses, an on-campus job, and the upcoming softball season, it would a gross understatement to suggest that she was anything but busy, over-worked, and in search of a much-needed break. Hungry for self-improvement, Spencer-Orrell has taken it upon herself to get the most out of her senior year, both on the softball diamond and in the classroom. However, she has never been one to take the easy way out.

Flash back to spring of 2017, and Spencer-Orrell would tell you how ecstatic she was to begin pitching for the Trinity Bantams. A stand-out hurler for the Northfield-Mount Hermon School, Spencer-Orrell was ready to take the next step into collegiate softball. To her surprise, however, she finished her rookie year making only three appearances in the circle. Unhappy with how her inaugural season ended, Spencer-Orrell looked within herself to make the necessary changes to her game.

“I focused on what I could control, what I could improve,” Spencer-Orrell says when asked what she planned to do to earn a starting spot. “So for the first two years, I worked on mechanics and getting my movement pitches down.” Spencer-Orrell could tell that the work she was doing behind closed doors was pushing her in the right direction. Despite limited chances on the field, she prided herself on being the best teammate should could be. In the dugout, Spencer-Orrell could be seen encouraging the players around her, always cheering loud for those on the field.

“That’s definitely what happens when you’re part of a NESCAC school,” she adds. “All the people come from schools where they were ‘that guy’.” Spencer-Orrell understood that nothing would be handed to her at the collegiate level, and continued to work in the weight room and on the mound.

Finally, in the spring of 2019, she earned a starting role. During her breakout year, Spencer-Orrell led the Bantams in wins with a 9-4 record and was second on the team in ERA, appearances, starts, complete games, innings pitched, strikeouts, and opponent batting average, while also pitching one of two Trinity shutouts that season in a game against Coast Guard. Trinity won 19 games and played its way into the NESCAC Semifinals.

After such a positive end to last season, Spencer-Orrell is openly disappointed at her team’s inability to participate in the 2020 spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team, which was excitedly awaiting its annual trip to Florida for spring training, received news in early March that not only would their spring break trip be canceled, but that the upcoming season would be gone as well. “The situation is very said,” she says. “The whole team was looking forward to the season.”

Spencer-Orrell notes that the teams were anticipating a strong first season under Head Coach Molly Rathburn, who joined the Trinity Softball staff after a three-year stint at Muhlenberg College, where she the Mules to their winningest season in over five years.

Additionally, Spencer-Orrell has spent a large amount of her academic time completing two theses. The first, a project that addresses mortality and mental health in Moby Dick, suitably titled (Im)mortal Men: Trauma and Morality in Moby Dick, was curated under her thesis advisor Christopher Hager and was submitted to Trinity’s English Department. The second was a pschology thesis that employed eye-trackers to assess the effects of mirrors of cognition. Specifically, participants were asked questions, some in the presence of the mirror and some without, to determine just how much of an effect that the mirror had on them. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, Spencer-Orrell was not able to complete her psychology research, meaning her project was completed as a “partial thesis”.

“The fall semester was very difficult for me as I was starting both of my thesis projects,” she says. “I really had to hone in on my time-management skills. Spencer-Orrell mentions that each theses' colloquium––which are the regular scheduled class meetings that allow for students to talk thesis ideas out with department professors and students–– were helpful not only for editing her progress as the semester progressed, but also to provide me with the positive encouragement needed to push through the difficult parts of her projects.

Spencer-Orrell has the made the most of her time at Trinity, both on the softball diamond and in the classroom completing her English and psychology majors. Her academic and athletic commitments have taught her just how valuable her time is on campus, and the discipline necessary to be a student-athlete at Trinity College. The cancellation of her senior softball season ia a tough reality for her and her teammates. A culmination of her hard work in practice, her achievement of becoming one of Trinity's starting pitchers was an enriching and positive experience for Spencer-Orrell. Her success in completing her English thesis and conducting intensive cognitive research towards her psychology thesis showcase that Spencer-Orrell was just as dedicated towards her studies as she was to securing success in softball. More importantly, these experiences highlight, even among the uncertain period of COVID-19, that Spencer-Orrell does not need any luck to get through tough times.