The custom after every Mount Saint Vincent softball game is for head coach Mark Roldan to gather his team on the field for a brief postgame talk. Just a few minutes for the Dolphins to go over the good and bad of the game, and then make plans for the next contest.
But when Roldan gathered his troops last Thursday after the Dolphins’ 3-0 loss to Farmingdale in the Skyline Conference Tournament opener, he knew this time it would be different. That’s because it would be the final gathering for seniors Mackenzie Heizer, Rianna Laughridge and Kierstyn Bourdeau — program cornerstones all.
“I don’t think there was a dry eye in the circle,” Roldan said. “Everyone knew it was the last time for the seniors. Everyone knew what they had accomplished in their four years, and it was a tough day for all three of them.
“Mackenzie and Ri came from the same travel team and they played all four years together, and it as their last time playing together. It was also the last time for Mackenzie and Rachel (Heizer), the sisters, to be playing together. I know that was tough on them, you could just see it.”
When Roldan took over four years ago, the Mount softball program had enjoyed little success. But his first recruiting class — which included Heizer, Laughridge and Bourdeau — helped bring about sweeping changes for the Dolphins. In fact, in the four seasons the trio played together, Mount piled up 84 wins, which also included a trip to the conference tournament semifinals last season, the deepest tournament run in school history.
So you can see why it was hard for Roldan to say goodbye to his inaugural recruiting class.
“The conversation after the game wasn’t about the game we lost,” Roldan said. “It was a close game, and sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.
“Our conversation was more about our senior class and how they were extra special. They were part of the complete turnaround of the program when they first started as freshmen, and they taught a lot to the underclassmen. They also really helped us recruit the really good players that we continue to recruit.
“We really owe them a lot.”
Farmingdale scored single runs in the first, third and fifth innings to account for all the scoring in the game as Mount was limited to just four hits by winning pitcher Jaxie Collard.
“We were having a hard time stringing hits together,” Heizer said. “The balls just weren’t falling.”
Heizer, a nursing major who graduates May 20, said it is sad now that her Mount career has ended. She knew the final postgame talk would be emotional.
“When that last out was made we all knew it was over,” Heizer said. “Everyone just kept talking because no one really wanted to leave the field. It probably lasted a good 20 minutes and everyone just expressed how much they loved our team and how much everyone loved being together. It was sweet but it was also very sad.”
But while Heizer laments the fact her playing days with her sister, junior Rachel Hezier, are now over, she has no other regrets from her four years with the Dolphins.
“It’s definitely going to be weird next year when Rachel’s playing and I’m not,” Mackenzie said. “It’s sad that we can’t play together anymore, but I guess it’s just a fact of life. But I had so much fun.
“I wouldn’t have changed my decision to come to Mount Saint Vincent for anything. I loved all the girls I played with in my four years, I learned a lot, and I feel like I left it all out on the field. I’m very proud of that.”