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Master Thief

Lebanon Valley outfielder nearly perfects the art of the steal

For all the weapons Sammy Bost brings to the Lebanon Valley softball field — from her .551 batting average as a junior to her near-flawless defensive skills (she had a perfect fielding percentage in 40 games as a sophomore) — her ability to steal bases stands above them all. In fact, the final game of Bost’s junior year at Liberty High School, playing for the Maryland state championship, provided a scene for the ages: Bost stole third base in the bottom of the seventh inning but slid past the bag on the field’s slick infield grass and got caught in a rundown. But the fleet-footed Bost beat the throw to the catcher and slid under the tag to win Liberty a state title.

Teams are still trying to catch Bost. She completed three years of her college career without a blemish, breaking the NCAA all-divisions record for consecutive stolen bases last season. On April 9 of this season, Albright shortstop Kelly Cembrale finally tagged out Bost to end her streak at 97 after the senior standout slid past the bag on a hard, fast infield. “Records are meant to end eventually,” Bost says. “I still plan on stealing some more bases before my senior year is up.”

Until that point, it had been so long since Bost was last thrown out that she only had vague memories of it. Some of the bases she stole in college, on the other hand, have been quite memorable.

A Few Highlights from Bost’s Streak

MARCH 3, 2014

It was an appropriate start for a record-setting career. In her first collegiate at-bat, Bost singled on a bunt and promptly stole second, then scored when teammate Sam Derr tripled to left field in Lebanon Valley’s 7-3 win over Saint Mary’s (Minnesota).

APRIL 18, 2015

Lebanon Valley was at its low point — after getting swept in a doubleheader against Susquehanna by a combined 16-1 score, the team was 6-20 in Bost’s sophomore year. Then, in the sixth inning of a game against Arcadia, Bost reached on an infield single and stole second, setting up Emily Johnson’s single to right field that gave Lebanon Valley a 1-0 win. It was a meaningful spark: The Flying Dutchmen won 11 of their last 14 games and advanced to the NCAA regionals.

MAY 3, 2015

More sophomore magic: The Flying Dutchmen entered the 2015 Commonwealth Conference Championship Tournament as a long shot at 12-21. But they beat top-seeded Messiah twice to set up a championship-round match with second-seeded Widener. There, Bost’s speed paid off. In the first of two games against Widener, Bost singled through the left side in her first at-bat, stole second and scored on an error by the pitcher. The Flying Dutchmen won the game 2-1, then rolled to an 11-3 win in the conference championship game.

MARCH 17, 2016

This game was quintessential Sammy Bost. In the first game of a doubleheader against Elizabethtown during her junior season, Bost went 3-for-4 at the plate. And each time she reached base, she followed with a steal and eventually scored, helping the Flying Dutchmen to a 5-1 victory.

APRIL 26, 2016

This was the big one — the steal that broke the 2-decade-old NCAA record for all divisions. In the bottom of the sixth in a rain-shortened game, Bost reached first on a bunt and stole second. Cabrini shortstop Kaitlyn Cooper walked up to congratulate her, but Bost didn’t know what she was talking about. “My coach was very good about hiding it,” Bost says. “She didn’t want to stress me out or overthink things.” Bost went on to score after a wild pitch and an error.

STREAK ENDS AT 97

Fate finally caught Sammy Bost on April 9, when the senior was tagged out attempting to steal second against Albright. Bost will finish her career with the all-division consecutive stolen bases record.

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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