By Collin Atwood
Hesitation and the difficulty of committing to a college kept Mackenzie Doyle from being at Springfield College for the entirety of her collegiate career. She knew where she wanted to be, but couldn’t take such a big step right after high school. Though there were bumps along the way, her journey ultimately – and thankfully – led her to Alden Street.
Doyle is a junior at Springfield who is majoring in sports management and is a member of the Pride softball team.
Her first experience on the diamond came at five years old when she played baseball for her local team. Doyle is from Glocester, R.I., a small town with a population of around 10,000 people. Due to the town’s size, there weren’t any softball teams available until she turned double digits.
At that time in her life, she worried about more than just her commitment to softball. She experimented with activities that were very different from one another.
“I wanted to do everything,” Doyle said.
She took part in karate, cheerleading, dance, basketball, soccer and, of course, softball. One-by-one, all of the other sports became less important to her, while her path to a future with softball was paving itself.
“I really liked softball, and everything always just fell into place opportunity-wise with softball,” Doyle said.
By the time she reached high school, softball became a bigger priority and commitment in her life. She started taking the sport more seriously by playing for travel teams and even added extra batting practices and workouts to her routine.
Softball is traditionally a spring and fall sport, but when once Doyle realized that she could possibly play at a higher level, every season became softball season.
“Softball never stopped,” she said.
Her talents stood out at Ponaganset High School, and before she knew it, colleges had her on their radar. The recruitment process can be an exciting time for young athletes who are ready to take their game to the next level. For Doyle, it caused a whirlwind of emotions.
She had a hard time enjoying her softball season because she constantly worried about how scouts would see her or what she would say to the college coaches that came to watch her.
People kept telling her which colleges to consider and the pressure from others made her second-guess herself. “At that age, I was so impressionable that I just could not commit to anything,” she said.
That decision of choosing a college became even harder for Doyle because she didn’t know what she wanted to study. When collegiate coaches were trying to recruit her and brag about their programs, it didn’t phase her.
“To me, it really meant nothing because I didn’t really know what I wanted,” she said.
Doyle, confused and blurred, could not make a choice when her decision day came around. That night she sobbed to her parents about her indecisiveness.
“I don’t think I trusted my ability to make a decision for myself and make a decision as big as going to college,” Doyle said. “I really did not want to make a decision and regret it. I felt like I needed to make the perfect decision.”
After dealing with the recruitment process, Doyle thought it would be safe to attend a local school – Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI).
Although CCRI wasn’t Doyle’s first choice, her experience there pushed her forward in her softball journey.
“(CCRI) really helped me fall in love with softball again,” she said.
For the first time since middle school, Doyle did not have to worry about recruitment or if she was talented enough to make it to college. She played for the love of the game.
“There was no recruiting,” Doyle said. “I was just playing softball because I enjoyed playing softball.”
That enjoyment led Doyle to a successful first-year at CCRI. In 2018, she received a First-Team All-Division recognition. The following year was tainted by the coronavirus, but the outcome was still positive for Doyle.
Living through COVID-19 gave her room to realize that it was time to finally commit to a four-year university. The harsh realities that the virus made her face was just what she needed to take that leap of faith.
“I was not thinking about the future at all, and COVID really smacked me in the face and woke me up,” Doyle said. “I had nothing else to do but think about potentially going to a college and transferring.”
That spring, Doyle started looking for colleges to transfer to. After applying to multiple schools, she remembered how much she loved Springfield College when she was in high school.
“I really wanted to come to Springfield when I was in high school,” Doyle said. “It was my number one choice.”
By the start of the 2020 fall semester, Doyle was officially a member of the Pride. She loved the energy she felt from the campus and she connected well with her new teammates and coaches. Over the two years she has been here, Doyle has grown close with her team and developed lifelong friendships.
“We do everything together,” Doyle said. “They’re my family and my best friends.”
Her impact on the field has helped the Pride tremendously. In just her first year at Springfield, Doyle earned a spot on the NEWMAC All-Conference Team. She led the team in batting average (.424), hits (14), on-base percentage (.457) and only struck out once the whole season.
Her performance contributed to Springfield reaching the NEWMAC Championship Series for the first time since 2017.
She has continued to put up impressive numbers in the 23 games she has played this year. She is hitting .494 and has the most hits (40) and stolen bases (15) on the team. The Pride are currently an impressive 20-4 on the season with Doyle leading the way.
Springfield missed out on having Doyle for her entire college experience, but she is now loving her life as a student-athlete on Alden Street.
“I really love Springfield and that was 100% the right decision for me,” Doyle said.