Humble Healy a hit at Niagara

In her accounting classes, Niagara second baseman Teresa Healy works with a lot of numbers.

Not as many as she puts up on the softball diamond, though.

“A lot of people look at the stats and say, ‘Wow, what a great year she’s been having,’ ” Niagara coach Al Dirschberger said, noting Healy has posted school records for career hits, home runs, RBIs, runs, doubles and total bases. “But she’s really brought a quiet leadership to the team. She’s probably the most humble player I’ve had at Niagara.”

Healy, a 21-year-old graduate of Centennial High School, has racked up 205 hits, 38 home runs, 144 RBIs, 135 runs, 45 doubles and 413 total bases — already blowing out previous school records, many of which were held by sister Tory Healy, 25.

Teresa Healy has established herself on the national stage. The senior ranks ninth in the NCAA this season with a .495 batting average, is 12th with 0.38 home runs per game and registers 11th with 1.25 RBIs per game.

Riding a 17-game hitting streak, Healy has 45 hits with 10 home runs, 37 RBIs and 31 runs in 2011 for Niagara (17-13, 5-3 Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference) — one season after being named MAAC Player of the Year and second-team Northeast All-America.

But the biggest honor — more than any individual accolade — is helping her team, Healy said.

“My team is a big reason why I’ve enjoyed my time I here,” she said.

Healy’s lofty reputation as a hitter has elevated her team, which posts a team batting average of .304 with four players hitting .320 or better.

“Having Teresa in the lineup and in practice, where the other players can watch her approach and her confidence, that fuels the other players,” Dirschberger said.

Opposing coaches laud Healy for her prowess at the plate, but she is equally adept at second base, where she routinely snatches well-hit line drives up the middle and converts tricky ground balls into double plays.

“She is a game-changer, offensively and defensively,” Dirschberger said. “Her defense gets overshadowed because of what she can do offensively.”

Dirschberger knew Healy could be a franchise player the moment she set foot on the Lewiston, N.Y., campus near the Canadian border.

“The first day she walked into practice, I watched her move and her swing,” the 21st-year Purple Eagles coach said, “and we knew right away that she was going to be an impact player.”

Healy has started all but two games of her college career, following a stellar senior season at Centennial in which she took a big cut at the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association record book.

She owns the third-most RBIs in a season with 50 in 2007, the same year she was fourth all time with 64 hits and seven home runs while maintaining a .582 batting average.

That standout high school career helped Healy get a jump-start into college, Healy said.

“I’m happy I could grow up in Vegas and play the best competition all the time,” the 5-foot-6-inch infielder said. “I feel like going into college, I was probably more prepared than other people.”

Four years after leading the Bulldogs to a Northwest League title, Healy is busy trying to earn her degree in the final month of college coursework. But even after she has taken her final swing in a purple jersey, she won’t be away from the game for long — she’s set to play softball in Germany two days after graduation.

No matter how the numbers are added up, Healy has left her mark on softball in Nevada and upstate New York.

“She’s probably one of the most unselfish players I’ve coached in 21 years,” Dirschberger said. “It shows that you can care about your team, and yet produce those numbers, and that’s just remarkable.”

Contact reporter Sean Walker at swalker@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0430.

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