Cavalier Corner

April 2023

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24 CAVALIER CORNER As a first-year, Boggs split time behind the plate and the outfield, and also served as the designated player. She hit .254 and helped the Cavaliers come within a breath of the ACC Tournament. She continued her improvement as a second-year, leading the ACC and ranking eighth nationally with 16 runners caught stealing en route to earning National Fastpitch Coaches Association first-team all-region honors. She helped Virginia fin- ish sixth in the ACC and match the program record for wins in conference play with 13. She also helped UVA to 28 wins overall, the most in a single season since the 2010 team posted 34 victories. Despite all the successes, not making the NCAA Tournament was a disappointing mo- ment that Boggs said motivates her and her teammates in 2023. "Last season we sat down as a team and watched the NCAA selection show, which was something UVA softball hasn't done in a while, and not hearing our name called gave us that spark for this year," she noted. "Returners felt so close to something that every college athlete wants to be a part of. "That is what motivates us to push our- selves even harder and expect more out of each other this year. Failure fueled our fire." Coming into the 2023 campaign, Boggs continued to receive recognition and praise for her ability on the softball field — she was named one of the top 25 college catchers by Extra Inning Softball. She embraced the role of a being a guid- ing force for the team, and the coaching staff praises her approach to the game and her ability to mentor the underclassmen. "Leah is a field general and emotional leader on the field," Hardin said. "Leah plays with contagious passion and takes a lot of pride in playing her position with excel- lence. What's most impressive about Leah is her deep desire to grow. She has worked diligently on her receiving and blocking over the last two years, and continues to learn the pitching staff to better her in game management. "It's no surprise she's been recognized as one of the top catchers in the country. Her work ethic and growth mindset are what truly set her apart." Boggs has taken that fire from the ending to last year's campaign and used it to help fuel the team's hot start in 2023. Head- ing into the opening week of ACC play, the Cavaliers had raced out to a 17-4 record that included seven run-rule victories and four losses by a combined six runs. The squad that accomplished so much a year ago has been buoyed by a group of first-years that was ranked as the No. 15 class in the country and includes six players listed among the top 103 nationally. Boggs continues to be one of the top hitters on the team — batting .311 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI in 22 games played (18 starts) — helping the Cavaliers score runs in bunches while tallying 67 stolen bases. But more than her efforts on the field, she wants to take her experiences — both her successes and her failures — and use her voice as a leader to guide the younger players on the team. "My role on the team, like the other returners, is to pass down the knowledge that I've gained in the previous years to the players coming in and be that constant re- minder in the dugout that we play this game because it's fun," Boggs said. "We have been through a lot as a team. At points where we could choose to grow together or grow apart, we all chose to grow together. "This group is capable of doing whatever we set our minds to. We have all the pieces we need to do some great things for UVA, and we are having fun in the process. Every day is a day to get better, and we do it to- gether no matter what. "When we sit down together at the end of the year to watch the selection show we expect to hear our name, and we are going to do everything we can do to make that happen." 'FAILURE FUELED' 'FAILURE FUELED' After Missing Out Last Year, Leah Boggs Is Determined To Help Lead The Cavaliers To The NCAA Tournament " When we sit down together at the end of the year to watch the selection show, we expect to hear our name, and we are going to do everything we can do to make that happen." BOGGS BY BILL BUNTING W hen the Cavaliers identified Leah Boggs of Mansfield, Ohio, as a prized recruit for the class of 2020, head coach Joanna Har- din saw a versatile player with a variety of tools that would help move the Virginia softball program forward. Coming out of high school, Boggs was rated as the No. 10 catcher and No. 55 overall recruit in the nation. She was a two-time first-team all-state se- lection in Ohio and also was named the Cardinal Conference Player of the Year. On top of that, she wasn't just your prototypical catcher, but displayed an ath- leticism that coaches expected would allow her to contribute in a variety of ways. She has done that in spades.

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