Megan Sorlie was serious, maybe even a little bit too serious.
Softball wasn’t a game for Sorlie, it seemed like work even though the Andover Central outfielder was a model for what a softball player should be: a rocket-launcher for a right arm, a sweet swing that produces power and efficiency and the range to track down any ball in the outfield.
Sorlie was magnificent, but she wasn’t having fun. She still takes the game seriously, but Sorlie is a different player entering her senior season, which starts on Apr. 3 at Derby.
“It’s a whole new kid,” Central coach Rita Frakes said. “She doesn’t seem as closed off to her teammates. Megan is pretty stoic and pretty quiet, but now she’s laughing and joking with them. She’s coming into herself and she hasn’t even hit her peak yet.”
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That’s an alarming notion, considering her ascent toward that summit earned Sorlie a scholarship to play at Notre Dame next season. In her junior season, she hit .543 with 11 doubles, four home runs and 27 RBI’s.
But it’s that arm strength that her teammates and coaches rave about.
“At regionals a couple of years ago, she had a ground ball hit to her in left field and they tried to go from second base to home,” Frakes said. “She threw the girl out before she even got to slide. It was just like a rifle shot to the catcher. The ball hit that glove and it popped. It was just like one of those awe moments where everyone is going, ‘Whoa’ and she’s just grinning from ear to ear.”
Sorlie will be the focus on this season’s Jaguar squad, which returns five starters from last season’s team that made it to state.
Others returning are Lacey Bolen, Cami Gee, Meg Huelskamp and Miranda Leibold.
“We’re going to be really young,” Frakes said. “But I think we might surprise some people. It’s just a whole different makeup than last year. I think their focus is better and it’s just different.
“I can’t explain it, but you feel it. I’m really encouraged by that.”
Early on the Jaguars will rely on Bolen to throw both games of a doubleheader, a challenge the junior is welcoming.
“I think I can handle it,” Bolen said. “It will be a challenge because some teams have a stacked lineup from top to bottom, but I just have to make sure I stay on my ‘A’ game.”