Amanda Riley ’18 has always gravitated toward leadership roles. A team captain in softball and cheerleading at John C. Kimball High School in Tracy, California, she took her softball career across the country to Monmouth and experienced tremendous success through her first three seasons.
Riley was determined to make her final year a memorable one. She was certain that if the Hawks were to soar to new heights, scoreless innings and strikeout totals would not be enough. To have a greater impact on the field, Riley felt the need to look inward.
“I focused on building my confidence,” says Riley. “Coach Shannon (Salsburg) and Marisa (DeStasio) really emphasize the mental game. Negative thoughts are common in athletes and part of improving confidence is understanding and targeting weaknesses. I became a more focused, confident pitcher and that was important because players feed off the pitcher’s presence. I think it made a difference for us.”
The difference she references spawned a historic outcome. Monmouth captured its first-ever Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship, and with that title, qualified for the 2018 NCAA Division I Softball Championship Tournament.
The Hawks competed at the University of Tennessee to cap a storybook season with an overall record of 32-16. Riley posted a mark of 21-7 and was named MAAC Pitcher of the Year.
It’s called the pitcher’s “circle,” but it could also be referred to as the “podium.” Perhaps no team sport relies on one position more than softball does its pitcher, and it’s a perfect spot for Riley.
Her competitive and compassionate nature, seasoned by a West Coast perspective, empowered her to bring out the best in her teammates. (That, and a dominant pitching repertoire.) While leadership seminars and courses saturate the professional market today, Riley boils it down to a simple, holistic approach.
“Leadership is about getting to know people,” she says. “If you want to lead a group, you need to talk to them and learn about them. That is the only way to determine how to motivate an individual. Above all, you need to show them that you truly care about them, and you care about the team more than anything.”
Riley certainly left her mark at Monmouth. She finished her career as the all-time program leader in strikeouts (666), innings pitched (691.2), and saves (10), and ranks third in wins (55). Having graduated with a degree in business marketing and management and a minor in IT, Riley says she will take her time on the road trip back home to California before beginning the next phase of her life.
“I loved my time here at Monmouth,” says Riley. “Coach Shannon and Marisa had a huge impact on how I developed as a person. I’m so blessed and grateful that I came here and leave confident and prepared to take on my next challenge.”