Boulder Creek to Baltimore: How Maddie Daigneau, a Small-Town Arizona Native, Came to Have a Historical Freshman Year at UMBC

Arizona native Maddie Daigneau had a historically great rookie campaign for UMBC.
Arizona native Maddie Daigneau had a historically great rookie campaign for UMBC.

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This season, the UMBC Retrievers softball team received a major contribution from one of their freshmen.  Maddie Daigneau came in and made a huge impact on the program, leading the team at the plate with a .375 batting average, a .426 on-base percentage, 63 hits, five triples, and 14 stolen bases.  

These numbers place her at the top of UMBC freshman records, including third all-time in batting average, sixth in on-base percentage, fifth in hits, tied for first in triples, and fifth in stolen bases. She was also named to the America East All-Rookie team, leading the conference in hits, reaching the top-3 in average, and earning top-5 numbers in on-base percentage, triples, and stolen bases.  

 Daigneau comes from a small town out west, New River, Arizona.  In comparison to Baltimore, the population in her hometown is recorded at 14,952 while Baltimore is recorded at 622,793. With very little to do in her hometown, Daigneau immersed herself in sports her entire life.

"I was eight years old when I started softball and it took about five different sports/activities to figure out what I wanted to do," she said, "My sister played softball so I was always getting soft toss from her and liked playing with her for fun. My parents started me in little league and have played softball since then."

Daigneau saw a great deal of success in her game dating back to high school, as she led her high school team to the playoffs in all four years.  She captured three gold gloves, and ranked in the top-5 in batting average in Arizona for three years.

"I realized [during] my eighth-grade year in middle school when I was getting pushed hard by my coaches to get better so I could compete with the older girls," Daigneau replied about considering softball at the college level.  "When I got in high school I was starting to get looked at by schools and it has always been my dream to play at the level of the girls I would watch when I was younger."

She was able to gain interest in multiple schools for her talent, but planned to move to the east coast.  A change of scenery is what interested Daigneau, and that is because of an experience of playing in a tournament on the east coast.

Why UMBC specifically?  "I wanted to go to a Division I school that I could also get a good education," and "most of the schools [that recruited me] would not allow me to do the major I wanted to do, which has changed now," said Daigneau.  "I also wanted to go to a smaller school because I know I would get lost on a big campus."

She has been able to make the necessary adjustments in college at UMBC, despite the fact that she lives in a totally different environment.  "The adjustment has not been too bad, considering UMBC is not a huge campus. I do like not being too far from the city to be able to go to Inner Harbor, but I could not live in the city, it is too crowded."  

Regarding her new-found, but limited free time, the Retriever newcomer has also successfully made those adjustments.  "Back at home, I lived in the middle of the desert so you would have to be creative for having fun such as going quading. But most of my free time, I would go on hikes and go up north to go camping. Here, in your free time, you have so many options to do in the city and I like how close everything is."

While her free time has been different, Daigneau learned how time consuming playing a Division I sport in college can be. "It is very different considering I do not have my friends from elementary school I had to make all new friends. I am glad to be around the friends I have made. Playing sports in high school is not near the workout or competitiveness as it is in college. I had to learn how to manage my time well and still be a functioning human on not as many hours of sleep."

Daigneau's huge performance throughout the season led to her being one of the leaders on the team, even though she is a freshman. "I worked hard to get better each practice and it showed during games so I was able to earn respect from the older players."  

She had to make plenty of adjustments throughout her freshman year at UMBC, whether it was at the plate or in her new surroundings.  The change for her has been seamless, as she led her team throughout this season, and she will be a player to watch for the next three seasons.