Senior center fielder Lea Foerster said she knew from the time she was little she wanted to don the green and white.
She didn’t always dream of playing her trade at Secchia Softball Stadium, however. The floors at Jenison Field House and the Breslin Center at points seemed more likely destinations for the Portage, Michigan native.
“I was a gymnast when I was younger, and I wanted to be a Spartan gymnast,” she said. “Then I loved basketball, I thought I was going to come here and play basketball, then softball was a game I really fell in love with.”
When coach Jacquie Joseph offered her a scholarship to come play at MSU, Foerster said she was overjoyed.
“There was no other school I wanted to come to,” she said. “Coach J could’ve offered me a Coke and I would have come here. I’m being serious. I just wanted her to say yes, you can come. I just needed permission.”
With the help of Joseph and the staff, Foerster has flourished.
She is one of the most accomplished Spartan softball players in program history. She has the most doubles and runs in school history, is second all-time in batting average and has earned multiple All-American and Academic All-American honors. Joseph said she is happy she offered more than the requisite Coca Cola to secure Foerster’s services.
“There are no accolades that I could give to do her justice, that’s how great of a player she is. And that’s what a great person she is,” she said. “That kid has done absolutely everything for four years, on and off the field. She’s a great, great Spartan. I’m just blessed to be able to coach her. I’d take 10 more just like her.”
But when Foerster came to MSU in fall 2014, she discovered something else. During October of her freshman season, she became a Christian, and she said it drives her in everything she does both on and off the softball field.
“Softball was a great opportunity to come to college and begin a relationship with Christ, and help my teammates do the same thing,” she said. “We’re more than a stat, we’re more than a win-loss record. It’s more about how can you help other people and influence people that are around you.”
As part of her senior celebrations, Foerster was asked to write a letter to her younger self. She closed the letter with a verse from Ephesians.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Senior pitcher Bridgette Rainey, who Foerster calls one of her best friends on the team, cited her humility as her greatest quality.
“What makes Lea so special is that she is a humble servant. Her humility is top-of-the-line,” she said. “You would have no idea that she was an All-American last year, you would have no idea that she’s our biggest leader on the field. You would just have no idea if you were just talking to her. I think that’s what makes her so special. As awesome as a softball player she is, she works hard to serve everyone else around her, and make them better, too.”
Foerster is hitting .358 with 14 runs batted in, to accompany her sterling .970 fielding percentage. She hit her sixth home run of the season April 8 against Minnesota, taking a fastball and sending it over the right field fence.
Joseph attributes Foerster’s play to one thing: work ethic.
“She puts in more extra work than any player I’ve ever had,” Joseph said. “Not practice, extra work. You want to be a great player, she’s got the template for being good.”
Sophomore first baseman Kelcey Carrasco talked about Foerster’s softer side, and said they have to hug each other every day.
“That’s our little thing. She knows that we can’t go down to the locker room without hugging each other,” Carrasco said.
Foerster said she doesn’t think of herself as an All-American, or even anything more than just the Spartan center fielder.
“I don’t view myself any higher than anyone else. I come to practice every day to figure out the best way to accomplish the mission,” she said. “I love my teammates, I’m going to do whatever it takes to help serve them and meet whatever needs they have. We have one goal and that’s to win softball games, so I’m going to do what I can to help us accomplish that and have a lot of fun in the process.”
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