The Whitworthian has selected junior pitcher Makayla Lefever as the female athlete of the year. When Lefever injured her knee her freshman year, there were some questions about what the future of her career would look like with the Pirates. After an up-and-down freshman year due to the injury, Lefever returned for her sophomore season with renewed strength and focus, putting together a nice 2015 campaign. As the 2015 season developed, Lefever and junior Madi Perez were swapping starts for head coach Cristal Brown.
“Sophomore year she came back over the summer, and she was just a completely new pitcher,” senior Alyssa Hall said. “All of her pitches were just great, she was hitting her spots and increased her velocity a lot. It was really cool to see those changes that she had made after just one season.”
One of the most noticeable changes that Lefever made between freshman and sophomore year was her spinning pitches. Throughout her sophomore year, Lefever consistently produced swings and misses.
Then came 2016, in which all of Lefever’s hard work resulted in some of the best numbers in the league. Lefever earned first-team All-Northwest Conference honors with a record of 19-4 and a second-place ranked ERA of 1.98, leading the Northwest Conference in wins. In 2016, however, the opposition knew what to expect from Lefever and the Pirates’ ace had to make some adjustments.
“Makayla’s strength has always been putting spin on her pitches,” coach Brown said. “She has a great high screw, but hitters knew to expect that this season, so she had to reinvent herself as the season went on.”
Though she put together a fantastic athletic career and a mind-boggling 2016 season on the mound, Lefever made a difficult decision to end her softball career and pursue her academic goals. Lefever will head to Washington State University’s nursing school in Spokane this upcoming fall.
“We knew last year at the end of season that nursing school was in the future for Makayla,” Coach Brown said. “She really has her priorities straight, and while she has accomplished some great things in softball, being accepted to nursing school is a very exciting achievement for her.”
“The friendships I’ve made, I’ll always keep that with me,” Lefever said. “I’ll also still be really close with the girls, even though I won’t be on the team anymore.”
“It’s been really cool to form all of these bonds, and it’s totally off the field too,” senior Megan John said. “We don’t just show up and all of a sudden we are all ‘buddy-buddy’, it’s all of the time.”
As Lefever ends her Whitworth career and the 2016 season comes to an end, there is no doubt she was a force to be reckoned with.