Comeback Kids

By Jilane Rodgers '06 / May / June 2006
March 24th, 2007

Down by eight, 10–2, in the bottom of the seventh, shortstop Mary Seid ’06 steps into the batter’s box to face the Harvard pitcher. It’s April 15, warm and sunny in Providence. The Crimson are three outs away from a sweep. To most observers, the situation appears close to hopeless.

But someone forgot to tell the Bears. Leading off, Seid slaps a base hit, and Kaitlyn Laabs ’09 follows with another. Runners at first and second. But the Harvard pitcher hunkers down to retire the next two batters.

No one on the team is surprised that Seid, the team’s leadoff hitter, is ready to spark a charge. Seid, who suffered season-ending injuries her freshman and junior years, is having the spring of her life. She is making impossible plays on defense and, as of April 20, is leading the Ivy League in batting average (.422), on-base percentage (.481), slugging percentage (.526), hits (forty-nine), and stolen bases (eleven, out of thirteen attempts). She has twice been named Ivy Player of the Week.

What the stats don’t capture, though, are Seid’s intensity and leadership. With an astonishing seven rookies on the roster, she realized that her actions and attitude would be scrutinized and copied by the rookies. So she reached out to them, both on and off the field.

“The freshmen definitely pick up on what she does,” head coach Pamela Mc-Creesh says. “She talks with the younger girls, not at them. I think there’s a mutual respect because of that. She lets them know that she understands them because she went through a rookie season once, too.”

In the fall, when the rookies gathered to watch The O.C. on television, Seid showed up, later admitting she didn’t usually watch the program but thought it would be a way to spend time with the younger girls.

“They come from different backgrounds and have different personalities,” Seid says, “but they’ve struck a balance within their group. It’s just part of my personality to try and connect. I didn’t want to sit back and watch them be treated differently because they are underclassmen.”

“Out of everyone, Mary made the greatest effort to get to know us,” says Kelsey Wilson ’09.

Seid, a five-foot, five-inch geophysics concentrator, plays with an unmatched intensity and drive—“sometimes to a fault,” McCreesh admits. She missed the bulk of her rookie season with a tibial stress fracture, but when she dislocated her shoulder early in her junior year, she refused to miss playing time. She taped her arm to play in the field, but she was unable to hit and sacrificed her spot in the lineup to a designated hitter.

Two weeks after the injury, Seid dove for a ball off the bat of a leading Cornell hitter and landed on her chest with her arm outstretched. “Instantly,” she recalls, “I knew that my shoulder was done.”

This fall, after surgery and six months of intense rehabilitation, Seid returned to preseason practice initially focused on simply making the most of her final season.

“I don’t know what it would have been like had she not been out there this year,” McCreesh says. “That was one of the things I wanted most, to see Mary back on the field for an entire season. When we won the Ivy Championship her sophomore year, she was out there the whole time. There’s a correlation there.”

On april 15, with one out left in the bottom of the seventh against Harvard, the Bears were still down by eight. But then Melissa Ota ’07 connected with a Crimson pitch, hitting a home run that brought in Seid and Laabs. Suddenly the score was 10–5. After a flurry of hits, a sixth runner scored, and now the feisty Brown squad was down by only four.

Next the Bears managed to load the bases. Nine women had so far batted. Seid stepped to the plate for the second time that inning. Briefly, she remembered similar at bats, in games when she’d come up with her team behind, the bases loaded and one out left. Each time, she had failed to bring in the winning run. She remembered what her coach had said after those at bats. “I told her she would be in that situation again,”McCreesh recalls, “that she would have her chance.”

This time she took advantage of it. Seid hit a rocket double, driving in three Bears and taking the team to within one run of the Crimson. Seid stood calmly on second base as rookie outfielder Laabs stepped in to hit. Laabs wasted no time connecting for a home run, bringing in Seid and the win. Final score: Brown 11, Harvard 10.

No one believes more than Seid that such dramatic, come-from-behind victories are a result of players’ confidence in one another, of how well the barriers between individual athletes are broken down and replaced by team cohesion. Seid hopes that today’s freshmen will remember that most about this year and about their relationships with her.

“I don’t want them to remember me as a senior and themselves as freshmen,” she says. “I want them to think, ‘She was just Mary. She didn’t see herself as anything different than us.’ It’s about becoming one team, on and off the field.”

Jilane Rodgers is assistant sports editor of the Brown Daily Herald.

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May / June 2006