Second-year medical student Savannah Seigneur played four years with Ohio University where she set the record for wins, strikeouts and shutouts in 2017. She signed on with the professional softball team, DSS Harleem in the Netherlands, as pitcher this summer.
Pitch perfect

Work hard. Play hard. Med student pitched for the pros over the summer

“I love medicine and softball,” says Savannah Seigneur, OMS II. “They both demand a lot and require me to rise above the challenge.”

You might call Savannah J. Seigneur an anomaly. In addition to thriving as a second-year medical student at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM), Seigneur played professional softball during the summer break between her first and second years of medical school. After landing a spot on the Netherlands’ DSS Haarlem softball team, Seigneur played for the country’s Golden League, considered one of the best leagues in Europe.

“I love medicine and softball. They both demand a lot and require me to rise above the challenge, which is what I live for. And I love that you’re constantly learning in both,” says Seigneur, who played for Ohio University prior to medical school, finishing as the all-time leader in wins, strikeouts, complete games and shutouts.

On the mound

Despite her mastery and skill in the states, Seigneur had to adapt her game, and her role as pitcher, during her 11-game season with the Netherlands team. Pausing for two seconds before you pitch isn’t enforced in the U.S., but that rule is enforced internationally. Leaping off the mound, or crow-hopping, is illegal in the States but permitted internationally.

Front pitch

“I am more used to gritty competitive playing, and the level in the United States is just more competitive,” Seigneur says. “Coming from college where stakes are higher, it is a bit different. I played for four years with the same team. It can be difficult to come into a temporary role and accept the responsibility of pitching for a team. But seeing everything the team did for me and meeting the girls made it easier to work hard and try to win for them.”

After four years of high-intensity playing in college, Seigneur focused on enjoying softball and her new teammates this summer rather than doubling down on stats. “The love for the game of softball can be found anywhere. And that’s all you need to bond a group of girls together. The rules in between the two white lines may be a little different, but the passion is no different.”

The two sides of Seigneur 

On game day, the stage is set. Seigneur is on the mound, glove in hand. Her makeup is flawless. Her hair is swept gently back, a blonde bundle falling perfectly down the center of her back. “For games, I always straighten my hair and wear a headband. I listen to songs. I sleep a lot before games. I never have caffeine because my intrinsic energy is enough. It’s a ritual,” she says. “With exams, not so much. Nothing is perfect. I look like I just woke up, and I have a lot of caffeine.”

Front-side closer pitch

But her level of focus, whether it’s on a final or a game, is equally intense. “I’m in total reflection of all I’ve trained for, and I visualize my pitch or my biological pathway.”

Medicine and softball are not so far apart, she says. “We learn that medicine is a team-oriented sport and you have many different positions on that team, and every patient gets a team. So you have to manage that truth and take those leadership skills and team-working skills to the forefront.”

Seigneur credits her experience juggling the demands of sports with academics as an undergrad with helping her more effectively manage the volume of work in medical school. “That balance really prepared me. I haven’t often felt overwhelmed in medical school. In undergrad, you have to give both sports and academics 100 percent. Now, I am able to give 100 percent to one thing.”

Pitch perfect 

Despite her apparent ease in the spotlight, Savannah was once shy. Softball changed that. “Since I was little, softball allowed me to come out of my shell. It’s given me so many skills, like confidence. It’s taught me about winning as a team and developing lifelong friendships.”

Although you win as a team, the role of pitcher stands out. And within that position, confidence is everything. “You are always in the foreground. You reflect the look and attitude of the team. You control the energy on the field,” Seigneur says. “And your teammates are looking at you to keep a positive attitude.”

On deck

While softball and medicine place dominate her schedule, her marriage takes priority. Seigneur wed her husband, Shaun Seigneur, a design engineer, right before the start of medical school. “He always motivates me and reminds me of why I am becoming a doctor and to follow my dreams,” she says.

Seigneur says her OU-HCOM faculty encourages students to follow those dreams. “They are constantly pushing us to remember to focus on our individuality during medical school. The last thing they want us to do is lose our humanity while receiving our education. If you have a happier mind, you’ll absorb the material better.”

Although she hasn’t decided on her specialty yet, she knows one thing for sure. “I want to change lives and save lives and help people overcome the challenges in their own lives.”

For further reading: 

National Osteopathic Medicine Week: 10 Inspiring DOs

Why the sports business means big business for DOs in Las Vegas

Holistic approach key to sports medicine, says Virginia Tech football doc

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