When not practicing with the Illinois Chill Gold on frosty Sundays, Megan Sowa chills in a batting cage with her dad, Paul.
Never mind this January cold. Forget that it's hockey season (finally). Sowa's stick remains hot.
Her smokin' line drives can melt ice.
"Since it's been basically my entire life since I was 8, I'm used to it," the Warren senior said of hitting a softball, which has became a year-round pleasure. "It's something I look forward to, because I love to hit. I don't know what it is about hitting, but I just love to hit so much.
"That's really what I work on in the winter," Sowa added. "I still throw, and I still field, but hitting is more of the main focus. It's still enjoyable ... even though you just want to bundle up in a blanket."
Sowa is warmed comfy-coozy by the fact that this winter she signed a national letter of intent to play Division I softball for Drake University in Iowa.
Moreover, softball tryouts for the high school team are only about five weeks away.
Spring is the ... (cold) air. Almost.
After a third varsity season this spring, the two-time Daily Herald All-Area center fielder/lefty leadoff hitter will head to Des Moines, where she will play for head coach Rich Calvert. In a decade at Drake, Calvert has helped change the Bulldogs into a winning program that is also known for its academic success in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Drake spotted Sowa last summer, when she was pounding the ball for the Chill.
"A few other schools were looking at me too, and (Drake) came into the picture," Sowa said. "Then when we were on our way home from one of our tournaments in Colorado, they asked me if I wanted to see the campus."
In early July, she drove to Drake. Two weeks later, she gave a verbal commitment to Calvert. She says she listened to her heart, which meant canceling a planned visit to another college.
She says Illinois-Chicago and Western Michigan also made her a scholarship offer.
"I fell in love with (Drake)," Sowa said. "I just love the area.
Sowa, the daughter of Paul and Barbara and whose sister, Brooke, is a sophomore pitcher at Warren, was 8 when she started playing travel softball for the Northern Ice. She played three years for the 10-U team.
Drake is getting itself a hitter who can drive the ball to all fields. Don't let the lefty fool you. She's not a slapper, although she's adept enough with the bat that she could probably do that, too.
As a junior, Sowa batted .464 with a .564 on-base percentage, setting single-season school records for hits (65), consecutive hits (14), at-bats (140) and runs scored (55). Her 8 home runs, which included a grand slam, tied the school mark.
She led Warren to a school-record 31 wins and North Suburban Conference championship. The Blue Devils' season ended in the regional finals. With Carri McGahan stepping down following last season to focus on being a new mom, former assistant Tina Meyer takes over the Blue Devils.
"Not that it wasn't based on fun before, but I just want to have a lot of fun," Sowa said. "It won't be as stressful trying to impress colleges with my numbers. I just want it to be about our team, and definitely we want to get back to the regional championship and actually win this time and get further (in the state tournament)."
More chances to hit. Just what she likes.
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