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Tighe has no regrets about leaving early

Caitlin Tighe was ready for bigger things.

With many of her friends and teammates graduating last spring from the 2023 Edwardsburg district championship softball team, Tighe made the decision to start her college career early at Western Michigan University.

And the former Eddie hasn’t looked back.

The Broncos have won five straight games and own a 10-5 record in the Mid-American Conference.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to the college experience quicker,’’ Tighe said. “I had enough credits from last summer to graduate, so I left Edwardsburg and came to Western in January and I’ve loved every opportunity I’ve gotten here so far.

“I’m OK with skipping my senior year of softball. All my friends were older and I loved the girls I played with at Edwardsburg. It was hard when last season came to an end ... but I cherish all the memories I have.

“I thought I did what I needed to do to prepare myself for playing at the bigger level.”

And it was quite a career with the Eddies, as Tighe hit .414 for her three years, with 25 home runs, 131 RBI’s, scored 141 runs and twice hit three home runs in a game.

In her final home game, Tighe helped lead the Eddies past defending state champion Lakeshore in the Division 2 district title game.

But while Caitlin was trying to find her footing at Western, there was a surprise in early March when her dad Todd was named the new head coach of the Eddies’ softball team, replacing Dean Dixon.

Todd Tighe had coached in the Edwardsburg system for a number of years both in basketball and softball. He also worked with his daughter’s travel team.

“When my mom told me he’d taken the head coaching position, I was a little bummed that I didn’t get to play for him in high school,’’ Caitlin Tighe admitted. “But mom reminded me that I probably would have hated it and we would have butted heads all season. So I’m still happy with my decision to leave early.’’

In addition to making the transition to college softball, Tighe is now playing for a female head coach for the first time in her career in Broncos coach Marlee Wilson.

And she’s definitely enjoying it.

“I think playing for male coaches growing up made me better and tougher mentally,’’ Tighe admitted. “My coaches here at Western are 10 times more understanding than my male coaches in high school and travel. They’ve played women’s softball and know how tough it can be.

“My biggest enemy has always been myself ... I’ve always beat myself up if I make a mistake. But this year, our coaches have said, as long as you’re working for the next play and not looking back, they’re satisfied.’’

While playing her familiar shortstop position for Western Michigan, Tighe has seen for herself how challenging the college game can be.

“The biggest difference is definitely the pace of the game,’’ Tighe said. “Whether this is on defense when you have a slapper up to bat who runs a 2.5 down the line or the fact that you are consistently facing good pitching.’’

One of the highlights this spring was a trip to South Bend to play at Melissa Cook Stadium at Notre Dame.

“I grew up a Notre Dame fan and in my last two years of travel ball we had a chance to play there,’’ Tighe said. “But I love the stadium and I enjoyed being able to play against them.’’

The Broncos dropped a tough 2-1 decision to the Fighting Irish.

But Tighe knows the improvement of her team is there, witness the current five-game winning streak for the Broncos.

“We’ve definitely worked into who we are now,’’ Tighe said. “I think the versatility of this team is a strong suit. It seems like, if our defense isn’t great, the offense comes through and if we’re not hitting, the pitching and defense has been strong.

“We’re still working on having everything together at once, but we’re definitely close.’’