Clarke makes softball history at Coastal Bend College
By Lance Catchings
Two years ago 2016 Liberty Hill High School graduate Lydia Clarke did not know she would be a Pitcher of the Year Award recipient or an Academic All-American. Two years ago she thought her softball career was over.
“I was playing select softball the summer after my senior year at LHHS,” Clarke said.
“It was my last season of play and I had a hitting coach ask if I planned to keep playing after high school. I did not think I was good enough play in college so I didn’t think I could. He helped me get a tryout at Coastal Bend College set up within a day or so. After my tryout the coach told me if I wanted to come to Coastal Bend to play I could. I got the tryout last minute so that is when all of my plans changed,” she said.
Clarke made haste for the small town of Beeville and Coastal Bend College not fully knowing what to expect.
“My first year was a tough year,” she said. “I really did not get to play much during the season. Towards the end of the season one of the pitchers got released from the team and I got to start my first game. We were losing a lot of conference games at the time and in my first start we got our first conference win. It was also rough because our coach resigned halfway through the season. We didn’t have a coach so we were running our own practices. One of the baseball coaches moved over and helped us out through our last conference games and I earned Most Improved Player my freshman year.”
Headed into her sophomore season with a renewed sense of confidence Clarke went in vying for the starting pitcher role.
“My sophomore year we got a new head coach,” she said.
“I was the only returning sophomore pitcher so I wanted to be the starter. We started the season with 6 pitchers and ended with just me. Coastal Bend has never been known for its softball but we started out really well. We beat the school record for wins in the first half of our season. I also beat the pitching record which was pretty cool. We finished with a 23-25 record and I had the record for 13 wins. It was the first time in women’s athletics for CBC for a team to qualify for a regional.”
Coastal Bend College went 23-25 on the season with a 10-14 conference record. As a team captain and lone pitcher to get them through the end of conference Clarke had a lot to balance. She did so with flying colors, while also maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.
“A lot of times it would be stressful,” she said. “I often felt like the team was relying on me and if I did not have a good game I was letting them down. I was also a team captain so I had to make a lot of decisions throughout the season.”
Her hard work paid off as she was noticed by the coaches at McMurry University in Abilene for her efforts.
“I am transferring to pitch at McMurry University in the fall,” she said.
“This will be their second season to have a softball program so I thought that was really cool. I talked to many coaches, but I felt the coach at McMurry was the most interested in me. I felt that was the best place for me to continue my collegiate career.”
Although her journey to athletic success was a little non-traditional she has learned some valuable lessons along the way.
“This experience was definitely not something I saw coming, but I am really glad that I decided to do this,” she said.
“When I got the offer to play at Coastal Bend I wasn’t sure if I would do it and I am really glad that I did. A lot of people undersell themselves on what they think they can do, which is how I was. I proved myself wrong and I showed myself I can do whatever it is I set my mind to. I did not play softball all four years for LHHS. Most people think you have to play high school sports to make it to college, but that was not true in my case. Some people let how much playing time they get in high school determine how good they are and whether they can make it or not. It is really the work that you put into it that will determine your success,” she said.
As a junior at McMurry next season Clarke is sure to add to her on field accolades and academic success.