May 3, 2013

Balta Elected 2013-14 Yale Captain

Three-Year Starter In Centerfield

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Tori Balta made a good early impression on first-year Yale softball coach Jen Goodwin.

"Her mentality, as I recall from a meeting with her last December, is to always practice with a purpose, and to bring your best effort every day," Goodwin said.

Apparently Balta's teammates share a similar view. They recently elected her captain of the 2013-14 Bulldogs.

"It is an incredible honor to be selected captain by my teammates," said Balta, who has been Yale's starting centerfielder in each of the last three seasons. "I hope to bring leadership and commitment to the team."

Balta, who earned honorable mention All-Ivy recognition in her first two years, has played in 131 games in her career at Yale. This season, she started 45 games in centerfield. Her 11 sacrifice bunts are second in the Ivy League, and she began the week as the 45th toughest player to strike out in all of Division I softball. In 136 at bats, she has struck out just seven times.

As a sophomore, Balta led the league with 11 sacrifice bunts and tied for 10th with 24 runs scored. In her freshman season in 2011, she finished fifth on the team in runs (23) and sixth in hits (32). In 20 Ivy games that year, she hit .321 with three doubles and eight RBI.

"Tori is an extremely intense player, and I believe she will bring that intensity to her role as the captain of this team," Goodwin said.

Balta will be one of four seniors on the 2013-14 roster, joining Chelsey Dunham, Kristen Leung and Alex Lucas.

"The role of the seniors on next year's team will be critical," Balta said. "Kristen, Chelsey and Alex are outstanding leaders, and the team will be counting on their experience."

Balta inherits the captaincy from Christy Nelson, who served for each of the last two seasons.

"Christy has been fantastic," Balta said. "Not just as a captain and a player, but as a person. She has led by example and helped the team battle through some difficult situations. Christy has always been available to work and talk through issues with all of the players. I hope to provide the same level of support."

Balta, who will intern with the New York State Attorney General's Office in Manhattan working in their Environmental Protection Bureau this summer, is optimistic heading into the 2013-14 season.

"The keys to our success will be consistency, focus and good team chemistry," she said. "Because our season consists of so many games, we need to be consistent. Also we need to stick together as a team. Good communication among the players and coaches will also contribute to our success."

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity