Tyrone softball All-Star takes her game to Penn State-Behrend

Penn State-Behrend freshman Loriel Herist has won her team’s Rookie of the Year Award for her performance in softball.
Herist batted .305 for Penn State-Behrend, played in 34 games, starting in 33 of the team’s 37 games. Loriel had 29 hits with two doubles and nine RBIs, scored 17 runs, walked four times and stole three bases in four attempts.
“The competition level is so much different in college than it was in high school,” reported Herist, who batted .410 as a senior on the Tyrone Area high School Lady Eagle softball team for coach Lois Loncher. “Everyone is out there because they really want to be out there. They have the choice to just go just for school or to go and play ball because they love it. It weeds out the people who don’t really want to be there. You have such respect for everyone out there on the field.”
Herist compiled the fifth highest batting average in the history of the Tyrone softball program as a senior and was selected to the Mountain League Small School First Team All-Stars. Loriel was one of two Lady Eagles picked to play in the District All-Star game in late June 2003 at the Penn State softball field.
“Getting to know teammates was real easy,” acknowledged Herist. “In high school, you have known your friends for four years, even before you start playing softball. Here (college), you have to make your first impression right away. You have to be outgoing and get out there and show them you love the sport.”
On defense, the fleet-footed centerfielder handled 58 putouts and had six assists to go with five errors for a fielding percentage of .928.
“College life is great, just in playing a sport, you meet so many new people,” said Herist. “My whole softball team is really close. To go from high school to college, I was terrified. I got up there to school and we had a fall ball program where you go and meet the new freshmen and stuff. That helped out a lot.”
College sports are often not quite the same as high school, particularly in other weather areas such as Erie, where Penn State-Behrend is located or when other sports share the same facilities.
“Occasionally we have practices that go from 10 p.m. till midnight,” recounts Herist. “Somedays we can’t get practice in at all because the baseball team is inside. There is a lot of snow in Erie at times, so you have to schedule your time around when you can get into a gym or batting cages.”
Penn State-Behrend finished the season 11-26 in fifth place in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference.
A typical day at school, according to Loriel, involves going to classes during most of the mornings and afternoons, then rushing to practice, when available from three or four p.m. until at least seven or eight p. m. Practice consists of running, going through certain drills, perhaps learning a new position.
“I’ve learned a couple things more about playing centerfield from college experience, learning from dealing with people who love to teach you. I’ve learned to dive correctly, to come off the fence right. In high school, you wouldn’t learn anything that specific unless you went to a camp. To be able to play on a field that is decent with fences helps. During high school, I was chasing balls a lot way out there on fields that had no fences. It saves you a lot and also teaches you a lot, with distances you know. I love playing college ball, it’s the greatest thing in the world.
“u have the heart to go play a sport in college, go and do it,” Herist advises, “even if you are half-terrified. College softball is so much fun. I would have regretted not playing. I love it.”
Loriel is the daughter of Barbara and John Herist of Warriors Mark and is undecided at this time as to what she will major in at Penn State-Behrend, which is located in Erie.