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NL’s Hoffman is a true competitor

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Published June 21. 2018 12:40PM

Compete.

To strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others, who are trying to do the same.

It’s a simple word in the world of sports. Many coaches can be heard yelling it from the sidelines, in huddles, or as teams leave their dugouts.

A true competitor is often rare to find. Sure, some athletes display it on a game-by-game basis.

But the best competitors — the true competitors — are those who can carry on that tenacity every single day, the ones who strive to be the best every morning when they wake up, and in turn, inspire others to do the same.

Northern Lehigh senior softball player Kaitlin Hoffman embodies exactly what a true competitor is and always should be.

Further proof of that is evident after Hoffman nabbed her third consecutive Times News/Lehigh Valley Health Network Softball Player of the Year award.

Hoffman’s competitive edge has given her an advantage on the competition ever since she stepped on the field as a freshman for the Bulldogs.

“Coaching Kaitlin for four years has been a pleasure, and it’s been great as her coach to be able to see her play the game the way she does. She never gives in, she never gives up, and she fights on every play, whether it’s playing defense, pitching, or at the plate,” said Northern Lehigh head coach Robert Hicks. “She’s in the weight room all year, she plays year-round, needless to say she takes softball very seriously, and you can see that by the way she composes herself when she’s out there.”

As good a word as compete is to describe Hoffman, complete might be equally accurate as the senior dominated in all facets of the game yet again this year.

At the dish, Hoffman hit .585 with 38 hits, eight home runs, and 33 RBIs. She also was walked 20 times, with seven of those being intentional, contributing to her staggering .700 on-base percentage.

There’s no doubting Hoffman’s artistry at the plate, but she was equally impressive from the pitching circle this season.

Division 1 Fairfield University’s newest Stag went 15-5 with a 1.74 ERA, striking out 166 batters to average just over eight strikeouts per game.

What’s even more impressive about Hoffman’s pitching numbers is that she only pitches during the spring season for the Bulldogs. During the rest of the year on her travel team — Chaos 18U out of Philadelphia —- she doesn’t pitch at all. Instead, she plays mostly in the outfield — which is where she will be playing for Fairfield in the collegiate ranks.

Hoffman’s ability to change gears and play multiple positions is just one more indicator that competing and accepting any challenge thrown her way is not only who she is as a player, but also as a person.

“Competing in softball is a must as it is in life, especially when there’s a tough situation or something that doesn’t go as you exactly planned,” Hoffman said. “I’ve learned so many life lessons from this game, and learning how to fight for something you want is one of the most important lessons that I’ve taken away from softball.

“I always just try to play as hard as I possibly can, and that’s made me a better player and teammate. Ultimately, I just love the game. That’s why I play year-round, and try to hone my craft, because when it all comes down to it, I simply love the game of softball.”

Hoffman’s passion for softball can only be matched by her passion for her community, and even though she’s moving onto Fairfield next season, she will never forget where she came from. The place where she forged friendships, celebrated with her teammates, and fell in love with the game that has helped shape her character.

“I just want to thank everyone at Northern Lehigh for the opportunities they’ve given me. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the people in my community, and I’ll never forget the memories I’ve made here,” said Hoffman. “Playing with my sister and how that made us even closer is something I’ll always cherish.

“How the community supported us during my entire career — and how they reacted after we won the Colonial League championship this season — is something that I will truly be forever grateful for and thankful I got the opportunity to experience.”

And Hoffman isn’t close to being finish.

“I look forward to making my community proud at the next level,” she said.

One wouldn’t expect anything less from such a true competitor.

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