In an adventure that lasted 12 years as teammates with three years sandwiched in between as rivals on the softball field, Conestoga senior captains Dani Leibowitz and Monica Hood were hoping their journey would end with a trip to the postseason.
Upon entering their final season, the duo had high hopes of leading the Pioneers to the PIAA District One Class AAAA playoffs. However, that was not meant to be as Conestoga fell just short of earning a postseason berth in a season filled with peaks and valleys that included a five-game winning streak in the middle of the season.
Although the duo fell just shy of leading the team to its ultimate goal, that should not diminish their accomplishments this season and throughout their career.
"It seems like everything happened in the blink of an eye,' said Hood, following the team's final game against Haverford High on May 12.
Leibowitz, who will be heading to Penn State-Altoona Campus to play softball added, "It's sad to know this could possibly be our last game. This is a special team who worked well together.'
Following an exciting 15-12 victory over Haverford High School on May 12, the Pioneers began the calculations to see if they had done enough to qualify for the post-season thus giving this group led by Leibowitz and Hood at least one more opportunity to take the field together.
Unfortunately it was not enough thus ending a special ride for the pair. This season Hood and Leibowitz earned second-team All-Central honors with Hood batting .371 with 16 runs scored and 16 RBI's while Leibowitz was equally strong batting 344 with 15 runs scored and 12 RBI's.
Conestoga coach Meghan Brogan said, "Monica and Dani are an irreplaceable part of Conestoga Softball. They are both very special players and people. Even as underclassmen on varsity, Monica and Dani made an immediate impact with both their physical play and mental fortitude. They did not wait until the Captain title was bestowed upon them to lead their team. They have been supporting their teammates with compassion, courage and ferocity for years. They taught them how to be in the moment and to just "let it go' when things don't go as planned. They quite simply are irreplaceable and unforgettable.'
Leibowitz and Hood first met when they played for two years together in the Berwyn-Paoli Little League. Upon reaching middle school the pair was divided due to township dividing lines with Hood attending Tredyffrin/Easttown Middle School and Leibowitz attending Valley Forge Middle School.
The pair joined forces together again on the varsity team in 10th grade leading Conestoga to two PIAA District One Class AAAA tournament appearances in three years. In ninth grade they both started the season on JV before Monica was moved up after six games. When the two were sophomores they began to make their impact felt on the varsity squad.
"Dani and Monica were huge for us,' said sophomore shortstop Emily Conaway. "Those two helped build a legacy and there were always there to pick us up. I just hope I can feed off them and take what I learned and continue that next season.'
With their competitive career completed, all that remains are the reunions to reminisce about the accomplishments achieved throughout their career.
"I am going to miss the team and how hard we worked together and also came together as a close-knit unit,' Leibowitz said. "We went to 76ers games together; had team dinners and prior to games we would gather in a circle with a card and pass the card and say something positive about the team to boost each other's confidence.'
Hood added, "I am going to miss the team and all of the fun we had together on and off the field.'