Crouthamel led softball team to new heights
Lilia Crouthamel’s first passion has always been softball. But when her mom offered to buy her a new bat if she took up tennis, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
That not only got Crouthamel a shiny new aluminum softball bat, but also introduced her to a racket and tennis ball at a young age. It blossomed into a memorable high school career in both sports, culminated by the Salisbury Press’s Female Athlete of the Year award.
“My freshman year I didn’t really want to play tennis,” Crouthamel said. “But my mom told me if I played I would get a softball bat. I don’t think I won a single singles match my freshman year. But then I started to like the sport more.”
Crouthamel’s mother, Kate, signed up both Lilia and her sister Claudia for lessons at the West End Racquet Club during their early grade school years. It was just a once-a-week thing in the winter, but Kate got to see both her daughters compete in a sport she never had the opportunity to.
When they got to Salisbury, both Crouthamel sisters excelled on the court. This past season, Lilia suited up at the No. 1 singles position for head coach Rob Benson, competing against the opposition’s top player. She finished the fall season with a 12-6 record and an honorable mention selection at No. 1 singles for the Colonial League.
She also did well in the postseason. Crouthamel advanced to the District 11 Class 2A quarterfinals round of the singles tournament, where she eventually fell to Moravian Academy’s Taylor DeCastro. About two weeks later, Crouthamel and teammate Vivian Rogers won three matches in the 2A doubles bracket and advanced to the semifinals.
“It was tough being No. 1 [this past season],” Crouthamel said. “Some girls I would get frustrated with playing against and I would get frustrated with the game, but I think I improved a lot looking at my four years.”
She had plenty of success playing tennis, but Crouthamel has always been more serious about softball. She’s one of the area’s top hitters and outfielders, even though she spent half of the season behind home plate catching for the Falcons.
In helping lead Salisbury to a spot in the Colonial League championship game as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, Crouthamel capped a stellar four-year high school career as a Falcon. She batted .489 with 44 hits (seven doubles, eight triples, three homeruns), 40 runs scored and 29 RBIs. Her on-base percentage was a staggering .521.
“It’s tough going to a small school because you don’t get as many girls to come out,” Crouthamel said. “I think we really proved ourselves. And I think next year people will look at them differently again because me and Anna [Bishop] are gone, but people will still look at them seriously.”
Salisbury led late against Northern Lehigh in that title game, but the Bulldogs came back for a heartbreaking 5-3 win. The Falcons then came up short in the District 11 3A semifinals against top-seeded Pine Grove. And while that aspect of it was tough—coming up short of another championship—Crouthamel was a part of a senior group that helped Salisbury rebuild from a 7-10 league record in her freshman season.
Crouthamel batted .389 for her career, scored 105 runs and recorded 86 RBIs. She eclipsed the coveted 100-hit mark this past spring.
The Penn State University commit also has been playing tournament softball since the seventh grade. She recently joined the Pennsylvania Chaos prior to her junior year at Salisbury, which opened up plenty of doors for Crouthamel, including that opportunity to play for the Nittany Lions.
“When you are on a tournament team, everyone is there for the same purpose,” Crouthamel said. “I think that’s what Chaos showed me, that all of the girls on Chaos want to get to a higher level. It also gave me confidence. There are so many girls that are going big places, and that motivated me to want to be like them.”
She won’t be alone in Happy Valley come the spring. Crouthamel will team up with former Falcon teammate Meghan Williams in a few short months. She’ll also reconnect with former Bangor standout Dani Fey, and Crouthamel joked that the two may re-watch the Colonial League championship game from two years ago where Bangor completed an enormous comeback in the seventh inning.
“The Big Ten is a big deal,” Crouthamel said. “I think it’s a really great opportunity. I’m grateful for it. We’ll just see how the season goes.”
Crouthamel was named to the Pennsylvania High School Softball Association All-State Class 3A Second Team as a catcher in June. She was also a Colonial League First Team selection as an outfielder