The Yale softball captain developed her love for her sport at a young age, and her competitive fire continues to this day.

Monica Lebron ’01 began playing softball at the age of five in San Jose, Calif., and started competing with a traveling team by the age of 11.

As she has stepped into the captaincy this year, Lebron — a left-handed batter who plays first base — has brought a host of accolades with her.

Lebron captained her high school team at Archbishop Mitty High School her senior year. She was named league MVP and led the team to league and sectional championships as a senior.

Since becoming a Bulldog, Lebron has not slowed down. During her freshman season, Lebron led the Bulldogs with five triples and 55 hits. For her performance, she was a second-team All-Ivy selection.

She earned the same honor the next year, while also being named team MVP and a New England Intercollegiate Coaches Association’s All-Star.

As a junior last season, she took home first-team All-Ivy honors as she led the Elis with a .314 batting average, three triples and 43 hits.

Lebron also holds the Bulldog career triples mark with 15 and, as of April 3, is 20 hits and eight RBIs shy of the Bulldog all-time marks.

This year, however, her average has dropped significantly. Through April 3, she had a .229 average. Lebron says the statistical part of the game is unimportant, though, especially as she has moved into the role of team leader.

“In my four years here, I have never once checked the stats during the season,” Lebron said. “To me stats don’t mean anything. I have tried to remain positive throughout this season even though my performance has been so poor. I know my teammates look to me for support, and I have made a conscious effort to focus more on them and less on myself.”

Despite her offensive slump, Lebron still strives to be at the plate at the end of a nail-biter.

“Even in my worst slump I will always want to be in the pressure situation when the game is on the line,” Lebron said. “I know I will always come through. I think my opponents know that of me as well.”

Besides Lebron’s capabilities on the field, she has shown remarkable team leadership this year, boosting team morale in practice. She has also taken an integral role in leading the five months of preseason training and weight-lifting sessions.

“She is probably the sole reason that I have gotten through this year,” pitcher Shayna Filson ’04 said. “She has been supportive and encouraging throughout the entire season, including the beginning when I was struggling to get used to the differences in the college game.”

But even with her offensive slump, Lebron’s defense has not suffered at all this year. Holder of the Eli-record for putouts with 616 through April 3, she has the third-highest fielding percentage on the team, .987.

After a quick start to the season, the Bulldogs have entered a slump — going 7-12 since spring break. As the Bulldogs launch into the Ivy League portion of the schedule, Lebron remains optimistic for Ivy League games.

“We still have not played to our potential,” Lebron said. “I would rather peak during the Ivies when it counts than in Florida or in non-conference games.”

Although Lebron — a women and gender studies major with a focus in sociology — will see the end of her Bulldog softball career in a few weeks, she does not plan on leaving the game.

“I am going to miss playing in a Yale uniform,” Lebron said. “I have learned so much from playing softball. I hope to continue playing, or possibly coach for a few years.”