It started with a phone call to her dad, a phone call Katie Bettencourt makes every single day.
Bettencourt is a senior at UMass Amherst and, for some of her career, has been one of the most feared hitters of a softball in New England (she was co-MVP of the Atlantic-10 as a sophomore).
This phone call was a little different than some others. This was sort of a plea for help. Katie was mired in the worst prolonged slump of her career, 3-for-28 (.107) and .167 for the season, in the midst of the worst losing streak of her life (10 losses in a row).
While UMass was coming off its annual Florida trip and another in California against top 50 teams in the country, this had not been the norm. Bettencourt won two state titles while playing for Salem High and three Atlantic-10 titles and NCAA tourney berths at UMass Amherst.
The lowest of the lows was wondering if getting the waiver for a fifth year — she was injured two years when her liver was lacerated sliding into second base — was worth it. Of course, it was, but those negative feelings always have a way of creeping in a slump like Bettencourt’s.
“I was a mess,” recalled the 22-year-old Katie. “It was everything. I wasn’t hitting. The team was not playing well. I’m the power hitter and I wasn’t hitting for power. I was putting too much pressure on myself, feeling like I had to be the star of the team, the hero.”
Her dad, Dave Bettencourt, one of the best baseball and softball hitting instructors in New England, had some advice for Katie. But he didn’t mention anything about weight shift, elbow position or follow through.
His advice was as simple as its ever been: Hit the ball and have fun.