Lauren Lucas works hard to earn starting spot for WSU

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Rachel Rudisill

Sophomore Lauren Lucas batting against OSU on Apr. 6 in Wilkins Stadium.

During Lauren Lucas’ freshman season last year, she watched from the dugout cheering on her teammates in the NCAA Norman Regional. The Shockers were playing against Texas A&M and two of Lucas’ former travel ball teammates were on A&M’s roster. 

Most of her travel ball teammates went to power-five schools and Lucas was one of the only players from her team to go to a mid-major softball program. Watching her teammates claim a  9-7 win over A&M gave Lucas more satisfaction that she picked the right program to play for. However, she said it gave her hope that she would be in the starting lineup if she kept working hard and waiting her turn to crack the starting lineup. 

Lucas is now a sophomore and is the starting left fielder for the Wichita State softball program. She is currently batting third in the lineup and has a .266 batting average this season. 

“When she gets up, you know, I get pretty excited,” Head Coach Kristi Bredbenner said. “She’s got good bat speed and has done real well for us so I hope she continues to get better.” 

Lucas knew making her way into the starting lineup last season was going to be difficult. The Shockers graduated six seniors last season and Bredbenner placed five of those seniors in the starting lineup, with each being named to the all-conference team in the American Athletic Conference last year.  

“I was cool with what she was doing because I knew it was always best for the team even if that meant me not being in the lineup and so I really just tried to embrace my role last year,” Lucas said.  

However, she said encouragement from others in the program like former standout outfielder Bailee Nickeson and hitting coach Elizabeth Economon was helpful. 

Lucas said Nickerson took advantage of the depth the Shockers had in the outfield to help prepare the younger players in the years to come. 

“She (Bailee Nickerson) was just so encouraging because she thought the world of us,” Lucas said. “She thought we could catch anything and so just taking that attitude and trying to put that into my play over the summer has really helped me.” 

Lucas said she never felt like she needed to consult Bredbenner about what she could do to get into the starting lineup because she trusted that there was work to be done and it wasn’t her time yet. She worked closely with Economon by hitting extra during hitting practice everyday. 

“She was like, ‘You know you just keep grinding. You keep grinding and it’ll pay off, don’t give in and stop working’ because you know it’s super easy to be like, well I’m not going to play,” Lucas said. “Why would I put the work in? But you know Coach E (Economon) really helped me see, ‘Well, next year you really got a shot.’” 

Lucas learned she would be placed as a consistent starter in the Shockers starting lineup before their second game of the season against Sam Houston. She said based on her success in the fall season, she felt anticipation that she earned a starting role. 

“The nerves that I had last year when I would start a game were just not there anymore because I have full confidence in my preparation and I had full confidence in my ability and you know whatever was going to happen was going to happen,” Lucas said. 

Lucas said she came on an unofficial visit when she was 15 and really bought into the program right away at WSU. Bredbenner believes Lucas’ continued faith in WSU softball has been a vital part of her success this season. 

“I think last year not getting to play a lot, she did exactly what we want our kids that, you know, on the team and not getting to play to do,” Bredbenner said. “She worked hard and she paid attention and learned from last year’s season and basically made it her goal to be a starter and knew what it was going to take to get to that point and she did it.”