Bittersweet symphony this softball life

From the first ever practice session to the last road trip these women have been through many ups and downs the past four years.

And for the seniors of the NKU softball team it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to the sport they have played competitively for so long.

“We weren’t as close our freshman year because we were all scared little girls coming in here and we didn’t know what to expect,” first baseman Natalie Papi said.

In the beginning the young players were shy and mostly kept quiet, but soon they all bonded together, which led them to getting to know their older teammates.

“The very first day we were all kind of shy and didn’t really talk much. The only person I really talked to was Dee Dee because we were roommates,” Catcher Kari Lang said.

Soon the women were becoming friends through a love of a sport and the competitive nature they each have.

“I think what brings us so close together is that our experience is so unique,” Papi said.

Second baseman Dee Dee Davis and Papi first bonded because they have always played next to one another on the infield and have been close friends ever since.

With a team comes togetherness and these girls all agreed that it is going to be hard not seeing one another everyday.

“We are like sisters, I consider these girls my family, I really do,” Papi said. “We are together day in and day out everyday.”

Papi will graduate in December and wants to start out as a probation officer and eventually wants to work her way up to a domestic violence shelter.

Outfielder Dana Jarboe feels that every year her relationships with her teammates have grown she feels her entire experience was worth it in the long run.

Jarboe has been busy planning her wedding, which will happen this summer and she plans on coming back to school to get a masters degree, while getting a job in social work.

Lang is graduating in May and majoring in athletic training and she took her certification test. She has applied for jobs and is waiting to hear back from them. Now that her collegiate career is finished she is looking ahead to the next chapter in her life.

“It’s been a good ride with great people,” Lang said.

In the fall Davis will start student teaching in Campbell County and graduate in December. In the future she would like to be a softball coach, perhaps at NKU, if the opportunity ever arose.

“We came in as freshmen and we made a pretty big impact, a lot of us played, and stepped in and started,” Davis said. “The four years have went by pretty fast.”

The four seniors all brought up the feelings on the end of this season to be bittersweet. The grind of the softball schedule can wreak havoc on the minds and bodies of its athletes and it isn’t for everyone.

“That’s the only way to describe it, like yeah you’ve busted your ass for four years and you are excited for the break, but you are going to miss competing,” Jarboe said. “We’re excited to graduate, we’re excited to get jobs, I am excited to get married, but at the same time it’s like man, softball is over.”

On May 4 the seven seniors will play their final collegiate game against Florida Gulf Coast at 12 p.m.