After a hard line-drive to center in her first at-bat, Lydia Bergman made sure the next one would land over the fence.
On the first pitch of her second at-bat in the first inning of Saturday’s season opener against Wooster, the Fallon senior drove the ball to the opposite field and over the fence, breaking the school’s all-time home run record.
“I didn’t really change anything about my swing because I had a level swing going into my first at-bat,” Bergman said. “I just got up and found my pitch and hit it. Sometimes it goes out and sometimes it doesn’t. I was swinging at anything that looked good.”
Bergman, who has twice broken the single-season home run record, took over the school’s top hitting record from Megan (McCormick) Maga, a 2016 grad who finished with 25 home runs before starring at Carroll College for four years. Maga took over the reins from Rileigh Ricken, who broke the record during Maga’s sophomore year, when she hit No. 20 against Elko seven years ago.
“I think the best part about being a part of Greenwave softball and the legacy that comes with holding records is the mutual respect among the athletes,” Maga said. “I remember the excitement around Danielle Rothery my freshman year and the buzz that she was going to break the long-standing record her senior year before injury took that away from her. In 2014, I celebrated with Rileigh when she broke the record because I knew she put hours into hitting on her own on top of the hours she spent pitching.”
Although Maga’s playing career is in the past, the ex-Greenwave star still gets to see Bergman as she coaches Lowry, which plays in the same division as Fallon.
“I’ve enjoyed this home-run record’s full circle moment from being a player and setting the record to stepping into a coaching role for Lowry where I get to coach against Lydia and watch her continue to make a name for herself,” Maga said. “I wish Lydia a great senior season and know that she will do more than just break the record, she will set it to new heights.”
Bergman’s home run capped an eight-RBI day as Fallon defeated Wooster, 24-1, in 2 ½ innings at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex. Sophomore Vernita Fillmore picked up the win in the circle for Fallon, which hosts Hug on Friday at 3 p.m. and North Valleys on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Bergman’s accomplishment started at the onset of the pandemic when her freshman year was canceled after two weeks. The following season was truncated to six weeks with no regional or state tournament, but she was still able to break the single-season record of 10 home runs. Last year was the first full season for Bergman and the Lady Wave when she broke her home-run record again.
“Just seeing her do it in such a short season and the work she’s put in is special. She is here day in and day out,” Fallon coach Kasey Chu said. “We worked through the fall season. It’s pretty amazing to see every one of those home runs.”
And the game, like the day before, was in jeopardy from even happening because of the weather.
Friday’s game against Sparks was moved to Monday because of rain flooding the field. Chu’s team, though, spent three hours prepping the field, including using buckets to bail out the water in the infield, to make sure Saturday’s game would go on.
“(Friday) when I got told you’re not going to play on Saturday, we have to try, especially for her,” Chu said. “Just to see the girls all come together yesterday and voluntarily to make it playable was a good thing. This is a good group of kids who get along well and have played together for a long time. They all want the same thing.”
The Fallon senior said her success is because of John Short, who was an assistant coach for both Fallon and Oasis Academy before retiring after last year.
“It’s all because I had an amazing batting coach when I was growing up. He was here. He’s the reason I can hit so well,” she added.
It was a good timing that Bergman’s first chance to break the record was delayed by a day because Short, who has worked with Bergman on her swing since she was 10, wouldn’t have been in the stands to witness history.
“It was fun to watch her and the excitement she had coming around third base and with all the kids at home and the smiles on their faces,” said Short, who retired from coaching high school teams after last season with Oasis Academy. “She’s very dedicated and a lot of hours were put in. I knew she was a hard worker but she had a really ugly batting stance that we worked on for eight years.”
With the record in the rearview mirror, Bergman’s focused on helping the team reach the state tournament for the first time in five years when Fallon won it all. Her leadership along with senior Darci Owens will be key for Fallon, which was on the cusp of going to state last year after falling to North Valleys.
“They absolutely look up to her and respect her. She’s been a leader since she came and played, but even more so over the last couple of years on and off the field,” Chu said. “Having an example like that is huge because a lot of teams don’t have that. They look up to her and she pushes them every day at practice.”