If you followed high school softball in the Bronx the past few seasons, you already know the name Anna Leidner. It’s a name that sent chills through opposing players and coaches while instilling a quiet confidence in her own team, the Bronx Science Wolverines.
Over the past three seasons — campaigns which saw the Wolverines post a stunning 35-5 regular-season mark along with earning three Bronx AA Division championships — it was Leidner racking up virtually every win as a dominant right-handed starting pitcher.
But for all of her softball prowess, there was another side to Leidner. It was one where she was dominant away from the softball diamond, as the leader of a first-of-its-kind club at her school.
“I’ve been the president of the Rubik’s Cube Club at Bronx Science for the last three years, and I go to national competitions with it,” Leidner said with equal parts pride and laughter about the 1980s era 3-D combination puzzle.
“In the national competitions, you try and solve each cube. It could be a two-by-two, a three-by-three, a four-by-four, or a five-by-five. And you have to do it as fast as you can.”
It was simply another avenue for Leidner to torment her competition.
But despite her prowess at solving that confounding cube, it was on the softball field where Leidner — the now-graduated Bronx Science phenom — will be most remembered. Even if her success came as a surprise for her.
“I definitely did not think I’d have the career I did, because in the beginning, I wasn’t sure how much I’d get to play,” Leidner said, especially since the team was led on the mound by Ava Cutler.
“But it turned out pretty well.”
Did it ever. And perhaps none better than this past season, which saw the Wolverines go 12-0 in division play and knock off traditional powers New Utrecht and Cardozo in the Public School Athletic League playoffs before losing to eventual champion Port Richmond, 3-0, in the quarterfinals.
“I have a couple of great softball memories,” Leidner said. “There was the game against New Utrecht (a 5-2 victory) and the one against Port Richmond in the playoffs this year. We went into that game kind of nervous, but we pulled ourselves together, and it ended up being a really competitive game.”
Softball was a great diversion from the academic rigors of a school such as Bronx Science.
“I think softball helped in terms of organizing my school work,” Leidner said. “It gave me a structure and a schedule to keep to.”
Now she will be looking to continue her academic and softball career at Macalester College in Minneapolis in the fall.
“I remembered Macalester from when my brother was applying there when I was little,” Leidner said. “And then Ava went there, and so I decided to look into it and it ended up being a really interesting school. It’s pretty small, so they have a big sense of community, which I really liked. And they also had Division-III softball, so I thought it would be interesting to check it out, and I ended up loving it.”
That love stayed strong despite visiting Minnesota in winter.
“Yeah,” Leidner said, laughing, “it was very, very cold.”
Leidner also leaned on Cutler to give her the skinny on Macalester.
“I asked her a bunch of questions and she answered all of them,” Leidner said. “So that helped me a lot in the process of choosing.”
Despite the demanding schedule she kept at Bronx Science, Leidner says she’ll miss it now that it’s all over.
“In the moment it was pretty slow and very stressful, but now, looking back, it seems like it has flown by,” Leidner said. “I’m going to miss people from the softball team like Fiona (Sullivan) and Georgia McKay from the basketball team. But generally everyone on softball.
“I made a diverse group of friends there. I had a really great softball experience and academic experience, even though it was pretty stressful the whole time.”
With the Bronx in her rearview mirror now, Leidner has an idea of what she might view as a major at Macalester.
“Possibly political science or math,” she said. “But the first year I’m just planning on taking a bunch of different courses and see what happens.”
Leidner also looks forward to playing with Cutler once again while also looking to spread the gospel of Rubik’s Cube in Minnesota.
“I think people there might be interested,” Leidner said, “so I’ll try if I have the time, and see how it goes.”