Nicole Loewenstein has spent most of her life on the field.
As the senior starting catcher for the Pirates, she has crouched behind home plate for almost every inning of every game for the last four years.
“All I did was work hard and play to the best of my ability,” Loewenstein said. “I think I earned my spot out there.”
Over the years, Loewenstein has seen and done it all.
She has exhausted herself in all of the drills, endured the abrupt quizzes during practices and even games and she’s helped write scouting report upon report.
“When she knows the lineup before a ball game really well, and when she covers it and stays in track of who’s coming up and so forth, there’s no better,” head coach Ray Vander May said.
It’s safe to say Loewenstein earned her starting position, but her drive to succeed helped her achieve the rare privilege and responsibility of calling a game.
“I’ve only had two catchers in 16 years ever call games here, and she’s one of the two,” Vander May said. “That kind of tells you about her ability behind the plate. She’s a phenomenal catcher. She’s very, very good, and she works extremely hard and she just loves playing back there.”
Loewenstein, a Joppa, Md. native, first began playing softball at eight years old simply because her dad wouldn’t allow her to play baseball with the boys.
Growing up, she played softball year round, but it wasn’t until she was 15 that she got serious about the sport. Through different recreation and summer leagues, Loewenstein met former Pittsburgh Pirate catcher Ed Lynch, who taught her how to read swings and figure out what pitch to call.
Once at Seton Hall, Vander May taught the “highly-skilled and highly-motivated” Loewenstein how to play to the weaknesses of each hitter, which eventually led to Vander May giving the reins over to Loewenstein to call games.
“It’s an art,” Vander May said. “It’s more than just going back there and catching for the pitcher.There’s so much that goes into being a complete catcher, but to call a game is probably the highest honor you can have as a catcher.”
For Vander May’s players, however, it all comes down to the trust between a pitcher and a catcher.
“You have to a good relationship with your catcher because you have to work together,” freshman pitcher Danielle DeStaso said. “(Loewenstein) is the person that I’m working with on every pitch. We’re usually thinking the same thing.”
Loewenstein, whom many teammates and friends call ‘Lowie,’ agrees, which is why she tries to become friends with the pitchers first.
“Once you get to know them, it’s a trust thing, like ‘I believe you can throw this pitch. That’s why I called it,'” Loewenstein said.
But there’s more to Loewenstein and her ability to call games.
Senior outfielder Laura Canulli has roomed with Loewenstein since freshmen year and knows just how important she is.
“She keeps the team grounded and almost stabilizes everybody,” Canulli said. “As a catcher and a captain, she’s the ultimate leader on the field. She’s the one that motivates everybody, congratulates everybody and is there during the highs and lows to get us back to that middle level.”
Krissy Wrobel can be reached at email@example.com.