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Coyotes run into softball postseason with base-stealing shortstop

Were she able to breathe under water, Eliza Eberhard might have become a great swimmer. Instead, she chose softball, and now she’s making others catch their breath as she sets records on the base paths.

5 ElizaEberhard“There’s wasn’t necessarily a special moment that made me pick softball. I grew up playing baseball like my brother and really liked it. Then, I wanted to be just like my sister and switched to softball,” said Eberhard, a sophomore shortstop for the Weatherford College Coyotes. “I guess you can say I fell in love with the atmosphere.

“I enjoyed swim team a lot too, but the whole not being able to breathe thing wasn’t really up my alley once I got older.”

She can be breathtaking, however, as a baserunner. As the Coyotes were preparing to enter the NJCAA Region V North Tournament, she had already set the team career record for stolen bases. In 47 attempts, she’s only been caught once, and this season she is 29-for-30, two shy of the team single-season mark.

“I’m proud of myself for setting the stolen base record, and hope I can set records at Texas State as well,” she said. “Coming to Weatherford I was so happy Coach [Haylee] Williams noticed my speed and actually trusted me to steal as much as she does. My high school coach never let me steal for some reason and it was pretty frustrating. I’m glad I was able to leave a mark for myself within our program at Weatherford.

“The two key points I was coached at a young age when it came to stealing bases – and to this day I still remind myself while on the base path – are to always be aware if the field umpire is actually paying attention to your lead off or not and always aim to dive for the back side of the base in order to make the tag more difficult.”

Then, she added with a laugh, “But, I’d say my biggest secret is probably having legs that consist of nearly three-fourth the size of my body. I guess you can say my strides help just a bit.”

Eberhard can do more than run the bases, though. After all, she has to get on them first, and her .347 batting average this season attests to her ability to do that. She also has seven home runs, 28 RBI, seven doubles and leads the team with seven triples. She’s also scored 52 runs and was selected as a first team All-Conference honoree by the coaches of the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference.

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“Eliza is one of the best athletes to come through our program,” Williams said. “She has the ability to make any play on the field, and is a super competitor. She is fun to coach and even more fun to watch play.”

“This season has been really interesting to say the least,” Eberhard said. “I’d say I definitely learned more about how to better approach certain situations with individuals than anything else. Performance-wise, I overcame a really big slump in the middle of the season, so mentally that helped me a lot as an athlete.”

She said she’s also enjoying playing for one of the perennial contenders in two-year college softball.

“I’ve never experienced a high school team that had a lot of success when it came to playoffs. We (Sugar Land Kempner) always made the playoffs, but would then lose the first round,” she said. “My view on the success of our team was the individual development.

“A lot of the girls only started playing softball when they got to high school. I was able to play with them and literally see them get so much better and confident by their senior year. Our team was extremely goofy and always played for each other so it made the game really fun.”

Sort of like the family atmosphere on the Coyotes. In fact, she will be joined by fellow Coyote and friend outfielder Marisa Cruz at Texas State University the next two seasons.

“I’m very excited to start this new journey with Marisa. She’s an awesome person, and I feel like we’re going to develop into not only much better athletes, but better people as well,” Eberhard said. “With both of us coming from a junior college environment and being the type of people we are, I can definitely see us transferring in thirsty to learn and try to make the most out of our two years at the university.”

And while she will never be able to breathe under water, Eberhard does want herself and others to always breathe clean air and live in a healthy world. Away from the softball field, she is working to make a change in the world.

“I’m going to be majoring in health and wellness promotion with a minor in public administration. My goal after I graduate is to join the Coast Guard and eventually start my own non-governmental organization,” she said. “I definitely see myself as an advocate for environmental conservation, and really want to do something to make our nation more aware that our everyday habits are a huge issue towards Mother Nature. We only have one Earth, and I want my children to prosper in it.”