Junior catcher Becky Marx had a big choice to make this past summer: where to transfer.
After a record-setting season for Loyola of Chicago in which she hit .326, recorded 44 RBI, slammed seven home runs and was selected to the first-team All-Horizon League, Marx decided that she needed a change of scenery.
“I faced the big question: Do you want to be the big fish in the little pond or the small fish in the ocean,” Marx said. “I had accomplished everything that I wanted to at Loyola. There were no external forces pushing me anymore, so I decided that I was going to move onto bigger and better things.”
But for Marx, the transition to Michigan wasn’t easy. During the summer, she could talk to Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins just once over the phone. Any further contact between the two would have resulted in Marx losing some of her financial aid because it would have been considered recruiting. Without financial aid, it would have been harder for Marx to come to Michigan because she doesn’t enjoy the benefit of being on scholarship.
As the summer wound down and school began, Marx still hadn’t signed up for any classes at Michigan, but she knew that she would have a spot on the team. She didn’t know if she would start or even play, but Marx was willing to take that chance.
“At the beginning of the summer, I said that, if this all works out, then this was meant to be, and it all did,” Marx said. “There were so many things that I couldn’t control that had to fall into place, and they all did.”
Not only did Marx have to adjust to a new school environment, but she also had to adapt to a new coaching style and a new role on the team. Over her two years at Loyola, Marx became the best player, but she knew that, even though she was coming to a program of Michigan’s caliber, she could still contribute to the team without being the superstar.
“I had to get used to competition,” Marx said. “I didn’t have competition at Loyola. I had to get used to not being the star on the team and taking a back seat. I had to get used to a big-time program where they demand a lot from you.”
While transferring to a new school would take any player time to settle in, Marx also had to deal with learning the unique deliveries and different pitching styles of Michigan’s three talented pitchers.
Faced with such a challenging task, Marx had a head start. She caught for senior Nicole Motycka when they both played on the same team in Kalamazoo last summer. Previously, Marx had caught for junior Jennie Ritter on a summer team. Already knowing their tendencies allowed for Marx to transition smoothly into the starting lineup. In fact, when Ritter pitches, Marx calls the game from behind the plate.
“(Ritter and I) click on such a great level,” Marx said. “Pitchers are pitchers no matter where you go. They all have the same mindset; you just have to work with them.”
On the offensive side of the game, Marx has started slowly, batting .253 with three home runs and 15 RBI. But Marx attributes her struggles to the alterations that the Michigan coaches made to her swing. As she becomes more comfortable with her new swing, she is confident that she can return her batting average to her Loyola standards.
To Hutchins, Marx has meant a great deal to the team’s success this season, not just with her defensive prowess but also with her demeanor.
“She’s been a gift from God,” Hutchins said. “She’s been exactly what we needed. She’s beefed up our catching core and brings great experience. She’s just got a great attitude. She’s a great kid to have out on the field.”
Looking back at the ordeal, Marx relishes the role of a small fish in the ocean. Although she doesn’t receive much of the recognition, she doesn’t regret her decision to come to Michigan in the least bit.
“Michigan softball is amazing,” Marx said. “It’s intense, and you couldn’t ask for better coaches. It’s a lot different. Here, it’s the real deal; we’re here to win.”