Thursday, September 21

Multitalented player has tough mindset

UCLA senior and Pac-10 Player of the Year Megan Langenfeld delivers a pitch in an April home game against Oregon.

UCLA senior and Pac-10 Player of the Year Megan Langenfeld delivers a pitch in an April home game against Oregon. Daily Bruin file photo

Senior Megan Langenfeld has accomplished a lot of things on the softball field this year.

Looking at her absurd season stat line, it’s easy to see how dominant she was against the rest of the Pac-10 competition.

She still holds the top batting average on one of the nation’s top softball teams in arguably the premier softball conference.

Hitting .500 is something that most batters would be lucky to do over the span of a handful of games, but for this first baseman and pitcher, it has consistently remained throughout much of the season.

Add in 16 home runs and 49 RBIs in just 112 at bats, and you’re looking at one of the prime-time NCAA softball hitters.

Langenfeld also pitches, and it just so happens that she’s quite good at that, too. An 11-1 record and a 1.25 ERA can attest to that notion.

But beyond those gaudy stats is a flat-out gutsy ball player who has the hard-nosed mentality to match her athletic gifts.

Langenfeld has the kind of attitude the coaching staff raves about.

They say that when the season comes to an end, she may very well be considered as one of the greatest to ever put on a UCLA softball uniform.

But truth be told, this seemingly unshakable mentality has been particularly tested by injuries throughout the season.

“There are times where you just play through pain, just because you want it so bad and you want to get it done so bad, and I think I have done that in bits and pieces throughout my career here as well as my teammates. They play through pain as well,” Langenfeld said. “I think it’s just something that we as athletes can do ““ push ourselves through pain just because we want it so bad.”

Case in point: Even after stretching for a ball from first base during a practice session on May 19 and straining her hamstring, Langenfeld returned to the field May 22 and promptly hit two home runs to ensure a 4-3 victory over San Diego State.

Yet as the injuries came and went, the accolades poured in profusely: Pac-10 Player of the Year, All-Pac-10 First Team, and a top-three finalist for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award.

But even with the attention she is deservedly receiving, the manner in which Langenfeld has conducted herself both on and off the field is in itself admirable.

“Coming off of injuries can be really difficult at times, just because you are not physically able to put in the work that you normally do when you are healthy,” Langenfeld said. “Being able to stay in it mentally is probably what makes being able to perform in games easier.”

It is this unrelenting work ethic that a competitor should embody to the fullest ““ and Langenfeld has.

“She battles every day,” coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “It’s her mindset. She plays every game like it is her last. She practices as if every game is her last.”

With UCLA seeking the program’s elusive 12th national championship at the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, it’s all or nothing now for Langenfeld.

“Whatever I am asked to do, whether that means coming up with a clutch RBI, coming up with a solid seven innings (in the circle), playing a good first base, or coming in the seventh inning and shutting the door, whatever I am asked to do I will do it to my fullest,” Langenfeld said.

Oklahoma City awaits, and Langenfeld is undoubtedly working, preparing for one last opportunity to win it all on college softball’s grandest stage.

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