December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria High and CSU softball star Cynthia Woodard to face nation’s best tonight

Cynthia Woodard

Cynthia Woodard

Former Elyria High and current Cleveland State softball player Cynthia Woodard will take the field tonight with the best players in the United States.

Woodard is one of three Vikings on the college all-star team that will play a doubleheader against Team USA at the University of Findlay’s Marathon Diamond.

It will be Team USA’s only appearance in Ohio as it prepares for softball’s version of the World Cup in July in Irvine, Calif.

“It’s really exciting to think I am going to be on the same field with the national team. The feeling is really unexplainable,” said Woodard, a first-team all-Horizon League shortstop who has started in each of Cleveland State’s 93 games over the past two seasons.

Woodard has experience playing in big games in front of big crowds in high school, where she played in the 2008 and ’11 state tournaments — she missed Elyria’s 2009 state championship season after suffering a knee injury playing basketball — for the
Pioneers.

She still expects some jitters when she steps on the field tonight.

“I’m probably going to be freaking out for awhile and I’ll get really nervous,” Woodard said. “I’ve never been in a game like this before, but a couple of my teammates will be there and we’re going to help calm each other down.”

Woodard will be joined by Cleveland State catcher Erica McNew and pitcher Alex Radjen on the all-star team, which is comprised of college players from across the state. She was nominated for the game by Cleveland State coach Becky Norris.

“When I got the email that I was selected for the team I was really surprised that I got a text from my coach that said, ‘Congrats,’ then I was like this is really happening,” Woodard said.

Woodard is coming off a breakout junior season in which she batted .353 — after hitting just .252 as a sophomore — and led the team with nine home runs, 11 doubles, 25 RBIs and a .632 slugging percentage.

She credited her success to hard work in the offseason and the guidance of Norris, who just completed her first season as the Cleveland State coach.

“It was a more relaxed atmosphere this year,” Woodard said. “Everybody wasn’t freaking out if they did something wrong. Coach would talk to us about correcting our mistakes and we’d just move on from there.”

Woodard got her college season off to a hot start, winning the Horizon League Player of the Week award for the week ending March 9 after going 4-for-8 with three runs scored and two RBIs in wins over Quinnipiac and Boston University during the Vikings’ annual spring trip to Florida.

Woodard hasn’t played in a game since Cleveland State’s season ended May 8, however she feels she’ll be ready for action tonight.

“Of course they have an advantage because they have been playing every day,” she said. “Once we get loose and the nerves go away, we’ll just go out there and play our game.”

Team USA won the first two games of its six-game exhibition schedule Friday night in Lynchburg, Va.

Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

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