Senior softball player Alycia Bachkora comes from a family of ballplayers.
After playing baseball at Fort Hayes State in Kansas, her father Charles raised Bachkora and her siblings to love the game.
“He taught my brother to play baseball, then he started a summer team for my sister and me,” Bachkora said. “He coached me my entire life until I came to college.”
Her brother played baseball at St. Louis University, and Bachkora’s sister Jessica now plays softball at Arkansas. Earlier this year the two sisters came face-to-face for the first time in their collegiate careers.
“It was so nerve-wracking to play against her,” she said. “We just tried to act like we weren’t playing each other. Our entire family was dreading it, but we both played well so it turned out OK.”
As the first baseman for the Braves, Bachkora said the atmosphere at Bradley helped bring her to the Hilltop.
“When I was in the recruiting process, I had a friend come here to play softball and it got me into loving it,” she said. “I had offers from larger schools, but it wasn’t as comfortable.”
Although she said she has enjoyed her four years at Bradley, Bachkora said several days stick out as the most memorable.
“The conference tournament my sophomore year was the first time in 10 years we had been there,” she said. “Even though we lost in the last inning to Southern Illinois, the atmosphere was great.”
Bachkora’s most unforgettable day, however, came on April 1 against Northern Iowa when she hit three homeruns in two games, helping the Braves to a two-win sweep of the Panthers.
“It was the first time I’d hit two homeruns in one game, so that was great in itself,” she said. “I tried to act like it wasn’t a big deal.”
After grounding out in her first at-bat, Bachkora said she was seeing the ball well, which paid off in later innings.
“A couple of at-bats later we had a few runners in scoring position,” she said. “I was just trying to get the runs in, but she put one belt high.”
The next homerun came off a low, inside pitch – which Bachkora said is her favorite pitch to hit.
A self-proclaimed superstitious person, Bachkora said once the team wins or plays well together, she has to keep the same routine before each game.
“Right now, I have to straighten my hair before every game and put in the same ribbon,” she said. “Lately I’ve been doing laundry every night because I have to wear the same sliders for each game. I listen to the same song playlist and the warm-ups we do as a team, I have to do them in the same order.”
This season, the Braves have experienced much more success than in years past, and Bachkora said much of that success can be credited to their new coaching staff.
“We’ve had great, new, fresh talent, and our returners have really stepped up,” she said. “But the coaches have brought a new perspective and made us the players they wanted us to be. They’ve made us believe and pull together as a team.”