Swinging into softball

Senior Julia Drennan’s drive shapes her softball path to varsity captain


Designed by Stuti Gupta

Eric Feng, Staff Writer

*This article was originally intended to be published in the March 2020 print issue of tjTODAY. With the sudden closure of Fairfax County Public Schools in reaction to COVID-19, we transferred this story to tjTODAY’s online website. Due to COVID-19 health concerns, Fairfax County Public Schools cancelled the 2019-2020 spring sports season.

It is the bottom of the Seventh inning. The softball team is behind, and Drennan herself is up to bat with two outs and all bases occupied by other players. Hearing the encouragement from the dugout, heart pounding in her ears, she swings the bat at a pitch. The ball streaks to the right field, and she runs. All the way to third base. Three players make it to home base, scoring three points; they win the game.

It’s a start

Senior Julia Drennan first began softball in the third grade and played until fifth grade, stopped for four years, then picked it up again in high school for four years of varsity softball. Her career was off to a rocky start when she began softball in high school.

 “In my freshman year, my fielding skills were terrible. I hadn’t played in a while, and I’d never played outfield when starting at varsity or even on a field as big as the one I do now,” Drennan said.

Despite the setbacks, she pushed through the challenges and tribulations by working hard on her technique on fielding and catching.

“I had to undergo lots of practice every day to eventually train the right reflexes. My coach would just keep hitting me balls and I would have to catch them. I never knew what was going to come next – a grounder, or a fly, or a line drive – so it gave me a game-like situation where I had to make split-second judgments. My teammates also helped me to make sure that I ran at an angle and not straight to the line of flight of the ball, because that gave me a better chance of catching it, and also to not extend my glove while running because that can slow you down. By the end of the season I improved drastically and I’m really proud of myself for that,” Drennan said.

Journey through Varsity

To become the successful softball player she is today, Drennan had to have a strong work ethic and practice rigorously. 

“Practices are every single day after school that we don’t have games, which are usually on Tuesdays and Fridays, for about 2 hours…. When it’s raining or snowing, we have indoor practices,” Drennan said.

Working hard is one thing, performing under pressure is another. Drennan had trouble adjusting to playing in a varsity environment when she first joined the varsity team.

“When I started playing varsity softball, I was extremely nervous and had zero self-confidence. Unfortunately, softball is really a game where you get into your own head, and by constantly telling myself that I was the worst player on the team and didn’t know what I was doing and was going to fail made me do and be all those things,” Drennan said.

Though mentality is one of the trials that all sports players must persevere through, Drennan managed to pass this gate after adjusting multiple techniques. After changing her mindset and adjusting to the pressure of games, she became much more confident by performing consistently during practices so that she could perform well under pressure. 

Overall, in terms of teammates and the game itself, softball has been an important part of Drennan’s life.

“I had played soccer from K-8th, but I figured, correctly, that TJ would have a dearth of softball players with any experience, so I tried out. Everyone on the team was and is still super supportive, and I wouldn’t change that initial decision to play softball,” Drennan said.