Darling prepping for Div. I debut

Brooke Darling, a freshman a Columbia University, delivers a pitch during the Lions scrimmage with Manhattan College last week. PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS



FormerElkLakesoftball standout Brooke Darling is getting ready to begin her season with the NCAA Division I Columbia University Lions.

Darling, 19, of Springville, said the team began practices on Feb. 1, and recently had a scrimmage withManhattanCollegewhere Darling pitched three innings and gave up no earned runs.

She said the first experience on the mound went well and the competition was similar to what she saw playing travel softball for the TC Tremors 18U team inBinghamton.

As far as preparing for the season to being, the Lion team has been practicing three hours each day and has weight lifting sessions two times per week.

Darling said she had to adjust to all the conditioning work atColumbia, as it wasn’t something she did as much in the past.

“There is a lot of weight lifting and running,” Darling said. “I wasn’t used to that kind of conditioning.”

Brooke Darling, left, high fives teammates after pitching three innings for Columbia University during a scrimmage with Manhattan College. PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS

The Lions will begin their season on Friday, Mar. 2, against Louisiana Tech in Starkville, Miss., at1:30 p.m., followed by a game againstMississippiStateat3:30 p.m.

The following day, the team will play Mississippi State at 11 a.m.and cap off the trip with a contest against Samford at5 p.m.that day.

Darling said that team’s goal for the year is to win the Ivy League, and as for herself, Darling hopes to earn a berth to the All Ivy League all-star team.

She said her pitching repertoire will stay about the same this season, but has been working on her drop pitch to help the team force more ground ball outs.

“I haven’t really changed too much, just working on my drops a little more,” Darling said.

Darling will have to make an adjustment in not starting every game as she has in the past withElkLake.

However, it won’t be that much of a change, as she didn’t always start on her travel teams.

“The only thing that will be different is that I will pitch every day in practice,” Darling said. “In high school I used to only pitch three times per week.

“Not starting won’t be much of an adjustment for me.”

Darling isn’t sure what her first year in the college pitching circle will bring, all she knows is that she is glad to be there.

“It’s exciting,” Darling said. “And it’s just hard to believe that I’m here already.”

Darling was a four-year letter winner at Elk Lake was a two-time Scranton Times-Tribune Player of the Year, a four-time Lackawanna League All-Division team honoree, and a second team all-state selection as a sophomore and junior.

She went 19-3 with 285 strikeouts, including 29 in a 16-inning state playoff game as a sophomore, recorded a 22-1 record in the circle as a junior, compiling 305 strikeouts and four perfect games while leading Warriors to Lackawanna League division championship, won 18 games while boasting a 0.31 ERA as a senior and also hit .456 and led league in doubles in 2011.

Darling is a biology major atColumbiaand the daughter of Lori and Terry Darling.