Softball might have been in the back of Aimee Duckworth's mind when she assembled her coursework at Ohio Wesleyan.
The 2017 Hilliard Bradley High School graduate is a biochemistry major who would like to attend medical school. She also is minoring in psychology, and perhaps that has helped her with one of the most difficult portions of playing for the Battling Bishops.
Duckworth recently completed her sophomore season and hopes to show continued improvement.
"I thought it would be cool to be a sports psychologist, but I kind of shied away from that," she said. "I do think that (psychology) helps me some. I was really serious (on the diamond) as a (college) freshman because I was scared all of the time.
"Coming in, I wanted to have a big role on the field. I played right field, and I was always nervous. I wanted to be out there, but I felt more pressure because it was college softball."
Duckworth started all but one of the Bishops' 29 games as a freshman, batting .301 with one home run, 16 RBI and 10 runs scored. This spring, she moved to center field and started all 38 games, batting .320 with three homers, 21 RBI and 25 runs.
"I think Aimee has gained a lot more confidence," coach Cassie Cunningham said. "She is a perfectionist and had trouble dealing with her struggling at times. She did better as a sophomore of handling that and not having it have an effect on her next play.
"I think it's a natural maturity process in terms of the mental game. It can take some time to 'fail forward' and be good teammate. By fail forward, I mean to use mistakes as building blocks to get better. When you realize that you're not going to be successful every time, and learn from it, that helps you to enjoy the game."
Duckworth has been excelling both on the field and in the classroom. She earned a spot on the North Coast Athletic Conference academic honor roll and has a 3.65 GPA.
In her senior season at Bradley, Duckworth was part of the softball program's only Division I district championship team. The Jaguars fell to Gahanna 6-2 in a regional final to finish 24-5.
She earned second-team all-league honors in the OCC-Cardinal Division after batting .396 with three homers, 16 RBI, 10 doubles and 22 runs.
"Coming in as a freshman after my senior year at Bradley, it was a different mentality," Duckworth said. "You get the adrenaline rush playing high school and club softball and being nervous is good. After I was done with my freshman year, I did a lot of reflection and wanted to make sure I didn't repeat what I did as a freshman.
"(Bradley) coach (Kevin) Moody taught me the mental side of the game. When I was a (high school) freshman, I would be frustrated with some of my at-bats. He told me to change what I have control over in the (batter's) box and not worry about the rest. Coach Cunningham has been talking about that, too. She always says to be in the moment and not worry about the past. She says, 'Be mentally where your feet are physically.'"
This spring, Ohio Wesleyan finished 11-27 overall and 5-11 in the NCAC.
Duckworth said the Bishops have been young in her first two seasons, but she expects them to make big strides in her junior year.
"I like softball because, like all sports, it translates well to the real world," she said. "I feel that I have matured well both on and off the field.
"I think our team also is maturing. We work super-hard as a team and we want to win super-bad. I think that will come sooner than later."