Breuer and Zeuch embrace roles as team mentors

Divy Bose | The Chronicle

(From left to right) Pitcher Holly Zeuch and catcher Lindsay Breuer, the two seniors for the 2022 Mason Comets Softball team, pose together on senior night.

In four years with the Mason softball program, Lindsay Breuer and Holly Zeuch have seen it all, so they were ready for whatever their younger teammates throw at them.

The 2022 Comet softball team is dominated by underclassmen, with half of the varsity roster consisting of freshmen and sophomores. The two seniors, Breuer and Zeuch, have been with the varsity team for four years, and have come a long way from spirited freshmen to influential leaders.

As part of an abnormally small senior class, Breuer and Zeuch took on the bulk of the responsibility to discipline the team. Relying on their experience in the program, their leadership has propelled the team to a successful season in what could have been seen as a developmental year.

The sheer number of freshmen and sophomores on varsity has given Zeuch and Breuer a unique chance to impact the future of the program.  Zeuch said she was inspired by the precedent set by alumni like Grace Rhaeger, a senior during her freshman season, to be the best leader and mentor possible for her younger teammates.

“Seeing Grace take on that role of taking me in on the team when I was a scared little freshman on Varsity was more than comforting,” Zeuch said. “She was always there to defend me to anyone that told me I was too young to have a voice on the team so I wanted to do the same.”

Watching Zeuch and Breuer lead by example is something that Girls Varsity Softball Coach Liann Muff admires. Muff said that both seniors have not only mentored the team but demonstrated what she strives for her players to look like on and off the field.

“Both Holly and Lindsey have been instrumental in modeling the behavior Mason Softball wants to carry on and off the field,” Muff said. “Not everyone is a natural born leader and you cannot invent that talent which is what both of these girls really have.”

Zuech and Breuer’s leadership has applied to more than just the softball diamond. Muff said the two have knocked it out of the park when it comes to raising awareness for the team or leading fundraisers for organizations like the Shine Like Sable foundation. 

“They worked tirelessly to make sure the fundraiser ran smoothly and went out of their way to further promote it to outside businesses,” Muff said. “It brought a sense of energy to the team from their drive to promote what is important to us.”

Continuing to take the initiative, both Zeuch and Breuer took it upon themselves to make sure each teammate is cared for. Zeuch said a lot more goes into playing the role of motherly figures outside of the field when her teammates are like her own family.

“I braid all the girls’ hair before each game,” Zeuch said. “Lindsay and I also drive all the girls to team bonding or events like a mom would in a minivan.” 

Breuer and Zeuch have learned to bring the team together as a whole this year despite the age gap. Having that responsibility means maintaining discipline, and Breuer said creating an environment that balances a serious, but fun environment was difficult.

“Whether you are on the field or in the dugout, the focus has to be on the game,” Breuer said. “Since I am a catcher I can see if communication is happening or if we need to bring our heads together to come out on top.”

Keeping everyone’s heads in the game can be a difficult task with the large number of underclassmen, but the expectations of the coaching staff do not change. Breuer said that even though varsity consists largely of freshmen and sophomores the high effort level should be there all around the team.

“I make sure to let them know ahead of time what exactly they are getting into and the level of commitment it takes,” Breuer said. “It’s my job to make sure everyone is doing theirs by keeping up with their health and work ethic whether it is on the bench or field.”

Muff holds high expectations for all her players, not just the experienced upperclassmen. She expects maturity and commitment to team culture right out of the gate for her young players.. Muff said that both Zeuch and Breuer make sure everyone’s needs are met before their own, which she sees as a trait that good leaders need to have. 

“I find it amazing that there has not been a single incident this season of an under-classmen forgetting their shoes or equipment for practice or a game,” Muff said. “It’s because of both of these girls’ help that they give out to the underclassmen seamlessly.”

Losing Breuer and Zeuch as they move on to playing college softball at Notre Dame College and Wilmington College respectively is a bittersweet experience for the program. Muff said that both Breuer and Zeuch have left a significant mark on the team for years to come.

“Both of them built that liaison between ourselves and the team,” Muff said. “They are the prime example of an exceptional student athlete that will continue to prosper, even if we do have to lose them next year.”

Photo by Lily Haller