During her sophomore year of high school, Ms. Belknap committed to play at the University of Georgia, but after Georgia’s coaching staff was shaken-up the summer before her senior year, she no longer felt comfortable with her commitment.
“It kind of made news in the softball world and other schools and coaches found out immediately,” Ms. Belknap said in a June 8 phone interview. “There’s a lot of communication in the softball world. You kind of know everything that’s going on and word travels very quickly.”
Ms. Belknap played club softball for the Arizona Hotshots, coached by Gary Davis. Mr. Davis said after Ms. Belknap’s de-commitment, schools reached out to her quickly.
“She probably had a half-dozen schools contacting me, looking for to get the opportunity for Mallory,” Mr. Davis said. “What is nice is because of what she has done on the field and classroom, it gave her the opportunity to make good choices. Once she de-committed she took three or four visits to other campuses and narrowed it down to Georgetown, which I think is a great fit for her.”
Before ultimately choosing Georgetown, Ms. Belknap narrowed down her choices to Georgetown, Lehigh University and Villanova University.
“I always knew that I wanted to leave Arizona,” Ms. Belknap said. “I knew I wanted to go to college on either the east coast or in the south and Georgetown saw me play and offered me a scholarship and when I visited, I loved it and knew that was where I wanted to go.”
A Competitive Atmosphere
Ms. Belknap played softball and badminton at Xavier. As a badminton player, she was a part of two state championship teams. State champions seem to be common in the halls of Xavier College Prep.
Ms. Belknap says her time at Xavier as a student-athlete has prepared her for the next level of competition.
“It’s really competitive. Between badminton and softball, there are so many girls that try out for the sports at Xavier and so many good athletes, too,” Ms. Belknap said.
“The competition has been so high that it definitely has made me a better player. There’s never comfort about being secure in a position, there’s always going to be someone else because there’s so much talent.”
Ms. Belknap’s teammate, Samantha Sydenham, is heading to Boston University to play college softball and she agreed that Xavier will continue to help her in college.
“Xavier’s a really competitive school for sports,” Ms. Sydenham said. “I think that just being involved in that competitive atmosphere has prepared me for the next level. It’s pushed me to become a better player and understand where I need to be to compete at the next level.”
Ms. Belknap was able to rise above the competition at Xavier, as she was named Co-Offensive MVP all four years of high school. She served as a captain during her junior and senior seasons, and was named team MVP and AIA D-I First Team her senior year.
According to MaxPreps.com, Ms. Belknap leaves Xavier with a career batting average of .470, with 208 hits and 163 runs. She leaves Xavier as the record holder for runs scored in a season (49), hits in a season (59), runs in a career, and hits in a career.
Ms. Sydenham says Ms. Belknap was an all-around great teammate.
“She’s really supportive and she pushes us all to get better and reach our full potential,” she said. “So she’s a really good leader for our team.”
Strengthening strengths, strengthening weaknesses
Ms. Belknap does not leave for Washington D.C. until late August, but in the meantime she will continue to strive to become a better softball player.
Ms. Belknap says she plans on using this summer to improve her defensive and offensive skills.
“I think for sure I’m a better offensive player than I am a defensive player,” Ms. Belknap said. “So I’ll be strengthening my arm so I can throw harder in the field and get more range going back and forth for ground balls and fly balls. I think just working drills a lot for the rest of the summer and throughout the fall should get me where I want to be.”
Ms. Belknap says she hopes to earn some time on the field during her freshman year, maybe as soon as the fall season.
“It truly just depends,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll get a little bit of playing time, but it just depends on what the team needs and how I can help them.”
Mr. Davis says he thinks Ms. Belknap will succeed at Georgetown.
“I think she’ll do fabulous,” Mr. Davis said. “She’s a very mature young lady for her age. She does a great job in the classroom and a great job on the field … She’s the ultimate team player.”
Ms. Sydenham says her teammate is ready for college softball.
“I think she’s going to be just fine, honestly,” Ms. Sydenham said. “I think she’s definitely going to compete for a starting position at Georgetown.”
As for Ms. Belknap’s expectations for her first year of college, she hopes to help the Hoyas and improve at the same time.
“I hope to get playing time,” she said. “I think if I just keep working on strengthening my strengths and strengthening my weaknesses, I can be a big asset to the team.”