HCAC Senior Spotlight: Bluffton Softball

HCAC Senior Spotlight: Bluffton Softball

CARMEL, Ind. – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC), in partnership with its 10 member institutions, is working to honor those spring sport senior student athletes whose seasons were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each week this spring, the HCAC will showcase one of its member schools, honoring those graduating student athletes.

Bluffton University has an outstanding group of softball seniors who the HCAC and the Beavers would like to recognize.

Megan Hill Senior Spotlight

Megan Hill Senior Spotlight

Kicking off our softball spotlights is a rose between two thorns, the M in CMC, none other than Megan Hill, a southpaw from Arcadia, Ohio! Four years ago they were Courtney JasinskiMegan Hill and Caylin Morstadt. They were first-year softball players from Englewood, Arcadia and Delaware. Little did they know that four years later the friendship they forged would become a lifetime bond that nothing, not even COVID-19, can break apart.

From her first visit to Beaver country, Megan felt that Bluffton was the place for her. She was welcomed with open arms and felt at home from day one. The campus community became her family as Megan immersed herself in everything purple and white. She was one of the most visible students on campus, even while completing her student teaching requirements at Shawnee this year.

Balancing academics and athletics is never easy, but Megan mastered the art at Bluffton. She stated, "It is a challenge to devote time to everything, but it can be accomplished because our professors are so willing to help." Megan has been an outstanding example to her teammates, especially those who have chosen to continue in the education field following their time at Bluffton.

When asked how being a student-athlete has prepared her for life after Bluffton, Megan said "Versatility and flexibility are key components that being a softball player at Bluffton has hammered home." Playing for three different coaches and playing with the diverse cast of characters that have surrounded her at Bluffton has shown Megan that she can adapt to anything that gets thrown at her, even when it's in the dirt.

One lasting memory that will always be a part of her story is the trip to Florida her sophomore year. When a herd of vermin was discovered in the bed she shared with Caylin, a chain of events was set in motion that CMC will never forget! A more positive memory for Megan is the time spent playing volleyball with both baseball and softball friends, enjoying all the perks of the sun and sand in Allen County.

Megan's advice to her teammates is predicated on surrounding yourself with those people who are your pillars. She believes, "You need to find your center, always remember who you are and have confidence."

Although her playing days are in the past, Megan most assuredly is not done with softball. She looks forward to being back on the field in another capacity and the kids who will one day call her coach will be better people because of it!

Courtney Jasinski Senior Spotlight

Courtney Jasinski Senior Spotlight

Courtney took over in left field as a sophomore at Bluffton and played in 81 games her final three years, starting every one of them.

A number of factors were crucial in Courtney finding her way to Bluffton. Her first two years at Northmont she played alongside none other than Brittany Huff, one of the most decorated players in Bluffton softball and women's soccer history. Courtney's mom, Christi, went to high school with Brittany's mom, Kathy, and Courtney's sister played travel ball with Huff. Jasinski is extremely thankful that, "Coach Rush (Bluffton's head coach in 2016 and 2017) continued to pursue me even after my ACL injury kept me off the field the summer before my senior year." Once Courtney visited Bluffton, "The small school atmosphere as well as the natural beauty of the campus made it clear that Bluffton was where I needed to be."

As with most athletes, combining academics and athletics during the season is often more of a challenge. Long mid-week road trips as well as weekends when there were Saturday and Sunday doubleheaders made staying ahead on coursework even more stressful. Taking advantage of the Learning Resource Center was crucial to staying on top of the academic side, especially during Courtney's freshman year. Her ability to cultivate friendships with other athletes outside of softball proved extremely beneficial as they helped each other when their respective games kept them out of the classroom.

Being able to juggle everything associated with being a student, an athlete and a hall director has fortified Courtney with the requisite tools to transition from college to the 'real world'. Becoming a leader and a role model are qualities that are easily visible to those who have spent any time with Courtney the past few years. Being flexible is another trait that she has become proficient at as the constant changes to game schedules was a daily occurrence throughout the spring.

Her best memories from Bluffton all revolve around team activities. From the annual Florida trips, which continued a tradition that had begun for her as a high school player at Northmont, to the away road games, Courtney thoroughly enjoyed those times when dance parties might break out at any given moment! Even routine meals in Marbeck when the team would sit down together after practice give her pause as she thinks about what she already misses.

Courtney broke down when asked what advice she would like to impart on her friends who will return to play the game she loves next season. "Not to be cliché, but play every game like it's your last," she stressed. "Do not take it for granted, because you don't know when it may come to an end." She would also like to encourage the girls to make sure that their work ethic continues to match their potential.

Caylin Morstadt Senior Spotlight

Caylin Morstadt Senior Spotlight

A third baseman by trade, Morstadt has been a swiss army knife for the Beavers the past four years. As a freshman, Caylin was a fixture in the lineup at DP. With Bluffton in desperate need of a backstop in 2018, she stepped up behind the plate and took on a position she had never played before. With Brittany Huff gone in 2019, Caylin found a home at shortstop where she swept up everything the past two seasons, earning NFCA All-Region honors as a junior!

Sometimes where you live plays a large part in where you decide to go to college. Delaware, Ohio, may not seem like the heart of Beaver country, but with Bob and Melissa (Baer) Day as neighbors, Caylin had no choice but to check out the purple and white! With their energetic encouragement and with former baseball standout Tim Webb just down the street, she decided to see what Bluffton had to offer. It didn't take long for Caylin to decide that Bluffton was the place for her, committing to play softball here in November of her senior year.

While there are numerous challenges that come with being a student-athlete at the collegiate level, Caylin found that time management was one that rose to the top of her list as a freshman. When she saw a 3.5 beside her name (which would lead to exuberant celebration for most collegians) following her spring semester as a freshman, Caylin knew that low point was not acceptable in her world. Getting back to perfection took just one semester and her outstanding organizational skills have been par for the course ever since.

Caylin feels that Bluffton's top-notch teacher education program has prepared her to make the transition from student to teacher. The numerous field experiences coupled with the cross cultural program have positively impacted her education and she is grateful for those opportunities. Student teaching allowed Caylin to hone her organizational skills while improving her ability to communicate with both students and peers. Completing the Education TPA requirements pushed Caylin to work under pressure, something she has been doing on the softball field all her life.

One of Caylin's fondest memories from her time at Bluffton is the seventh inning of game two versus Albion last season. With the Beavers on the verge of being swept by the Britons, Morstadt stepped to the plate with two outs and Bluffton trailing 9-8. Her double to the wall in center field picked up Casey Clark from second and Sydney Bowen all the way from first as Morstadt's first-ever walkoff at Bluffton handed the good guys a 10-9 victory!

The primary piece of advice Caylin would like to leave for her youthful teammates is, "Do not take anything for granted. It is easy to say you have next season, but sometimes that just isn't the case." She added, "Work hard when nobody is watching."

Getting to know Caylin, along with her parents, Shane and Crystal, has truly been a blessing to me. I would like to send a very special thank you to Crystal for supplying us with photos last year and again this year. I can't thank you folks enough for your help and for the friendship we will take forward!

For more information on all things HCAC, visit the websites of any of the participating schools, or go to the HCAC's home on the internet at www.heartlandconf.org. Be sure to stay up to date on all of your Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference news by following @HCACDIII on Twitter and by liking the "HCAC DIII" Facebook page.