WESTFIELD, NJ — With less than a month remaining in her senior season, Westfield High School varsity softball left-fielder Lauren Fernandez has stepped up to the plate as a key player for the team.

Fernandez is this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week.

“She has been playing excellent defense for us in left field,” head coach Caitlin MacDonald said. “In our second game against Clark alone she had six putouts in left. She’s really been doing a solid job of catching everything that has come her way.”

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Fernandez has also been playing an important offensive role, bringing in some key RBI base hits in the past couple weeks, according to MacDonald. Though proud of what she’s accomplished, Fernandez remains humble and driven.

“It’s really been a fun season,” she said. “I want to do my best and really go all out in my last year. I’m just trying to execute cleanly, play the best I can and really be a team player.”

According to MacDonald, Fernandez has succeeded in this.

“She’s always easy to be around, easy to coach and she’s somebody who I know the underclassmen look up to,” MacDonald said.

Even after the games end, the team has been an important part of Fernandez’s second and final year on varsity.

“It really has been a family,” she said. “We hang out after softball hours and we actually enjoy each other's company. While other teams might just be playing softball together, we really have become close friends.”

As she looks ahead, Fernandez finding it difficult to bid farewell to the sport she has played since third grade.

“It hasn't hit me yet,” she said. “I’m going to hate saying good-bye but it’s been a long ride, and it's been a good one.”

As for the rest of the season, Fernandez has just one wish.

“I just want to win,” she said. “I want it all to end on a happy note. I’m not going to compare myself to him but when Derek Jeter retired he said that he didn't want the ball to come to him because he didn't want to mess up. I just don't want to end on a bad note. But I know that we’re a great team and no matter what, I’ll be happy with this season.”

You can catch Fernandez and the rest of her team as they take on rivals Scotch Plains on Friday at 4 p.m. at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School.

Samantha Della Fera is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.