Softball: Michelle Roberts encourages Maine South to relaxNorthbrook - Softball game: Maine South vs. Glenrook North. | Joe Cyganowski ~ For Sun Times Media
Updated: April 10, 2012 7:00PM
With several academic stars on its roster, the Maine South softball team may be one of the most cerebral clubs around.
Usually, that’s a good thing.
However, head coach Emmy Pasier said sometimes she finds her players over-thinking situations.
“There was a game the other day and I said to the girls, ‘Stop thinking, just play,’ ” Pasier said. “They all kind of laughed. But it’s hard for us. We want them to play the game and have fun. They also make some incredibly smart plays in the field, as well.”
Senior shortstop Michelle Roberts said she agrees with Pasier’s assessment and, as a co-captain, has been passing along her coach’s message.
“Yeah, sometimes we think too much and we do get ahead of ourselves,” said Roberts, a fourth-year varsity player who also hits leadoff. “We’re constantly thinking of which play to make and when and how to make it, all that stuff. We really just need to trust ourselves. When we’re thinking too much, that’s when we’re not doing well. We need to relax. I tried to tell the team the same thing. We’re going to see how that goes the next few games.”
While Roberts might endorse the “just do it” theory on the field, she clearly uses her brain away from the diamond. In November, she and teammate Maddy Vogg were part of Maine South’s Constitution team that captured the state title in the annual speech competition at Chicago’s Dirksen Federal Building.
Later this month, Roberts, Vogg and the rest of the 26-person Constitution team will be off to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national finals. Both Hawks could miss five to seven softball games during the trip.
Even if Roberts wins national honors with the Constitution team, and helps the Hawks (4-5) reach their goal of a regional softball title, the accomplishments are likely to rank only second and third on the senior’s spring highlights.
Heading the list no doubt is the news Roberts received during spring break that she had been accepted into Duke University, a school she had been dreaming about attending for more than a decade. Roberts plans to study physical therapy, but will not play softball.
“I was super-duper excited (about being accepted at Duke). I’ve wanted to go there since I was 7 years old,” said Roberts, whose grandfather graduated from the school. “I’ve been working toward that my whole life academically and it feels good to have the hard work pay off.”
Roberts said she quit her basketball career prior to her junior season in order to focus on grades and test scores.
There was a time, Roberts said, when she contemplated pursuing a college softball career. She certainly has the skills to play at some level, if she had been so inclined.
This season, Roberts has made a smooth transition back to shortstop, her natural position, after playing outfield and second base as a junior. Entering this week, she was the team’s second-leading hitter behind fellow senior co-captain Kaitlyn Mullarkey.
Pasier said the young Hawks had exceeded her expectations this spring after the team lost seven seniors from last year’s 15-19-1 squad. One major reason for the early success has been the leadership the team has received from its seniors, especially Roberts.
“Michelle takes charge and keeps kids in check, on and off the field,” the coach said. “(Mullarkey) is a verbal communicator and Michelle is a lead-by-example type. She is the first one out there when we’re doing sprints and the first to take out the balls if we’re going to hit. She helps to get everybody on the same page.”