She has yet to swing at a college pitch, and hitter extraordinaire Megan Sowa is already 1-for-1.
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Jersey No. 1 for Warren's softball team each of the last three seasons, the senior center fielder will keep the skinny digit on her back when she heads to Drake University to play Division I softball next year.
"At Drake, I'm going to be (No.) 1, too," Sowa said.
She wore her favorite number well for the Blue Devils. From the No. 1 spot in the batting order, she was the catalyst for a team that was, for the most part, the No. 1 team in Lake County for most of the season. With the lefty-hitting Sowa batting a team-leading .513 with a hefty 27 extra-base hits, Warren won 27 games before bowing to the host school in the Class 4A Barrington supersectional.
A three-time all-area player who last season set a school record with 65 hits, Sowa captains the Daily Herald's Lake County all-area team this spring.
"She has done a fabulous job as our leadoff hitter," Warren first-year head coach and former varsity assistant Tina Meyer said. "She has set the bar high, and every year I think she has been successful at reaching the goals she has set for herself."
Warren had big goals this season after winning 31 games but losing in its own regional final last year. The Blue Devils returned essentially their entire starting lineup and after a somewhat slow start started winning on a consistent basis again. They won their own regional by avenging a pair of regular-season losses to Zion-Benton that prevented them from successfully defending their North Suburban Conference Lake Division title, then captured the Prairie Ridge sectional.
"I'm so proud of us," Sowa said. "It's been cool to see us come together as a team and accomplish (a sectional championship)."
She was part of a group that included five other seniors in first baseman Amy Ricci, shortstop Jill Fox, corner outfielders Kelly Majewski and Lisiann Rodriguez and catcher Sam Belletini.
"I've never really played on a team with any of them during travel season, but we've been playing each other since we were like 9," Sowa said.
Sowa was batting third in Warren's order to start the season, but Meyer switched her veteran back to leadoff soon afterward.
"She thought it was best for our team, and I thought it was too," Sowa said. "I'm an effective (No.) 1 (hitter), so it worked out. ... I like it."
Sowa hit a school-record-tying 8 home runs last year and belted 4 this season, driving in 35 runs. She routinely put the ball in play, striking out only seven times, and could drive it from corner to corner.
"She hits (the ball) everywhere," said Zion-Benton coach Rick Rymer, whose NSC Lake champion Zee-Bees surrendered 8 hits in 11 at-bats to Sowa in three games. "We got a spray (chart). But she can hit this way. She can hit that way."
After a somewhat slow start to the season, Sowas returned to her old form, spraying the ball to all fields and hitting with occasional pop. Her power numbers also included 16 doubles and 7 triples and, in total, 58 hits.
"I guess I kind of had a confidence boost," Sowa said. "Not that my confidence was down, but I just think there was a certain point in the season when I regained the confidence that I had before with myself, and it stuck with me."
While she also posted a .528 on-base percentage and scored 44 runs, she also caught everything in center field, patrolling the outfield like a coach would expect of a veteran who's both athletic and instinctive.
"Sowa is an extraordinary athlete out there in center field," Rymer said. "She covers so much area."
When she was younger, Sowa tried volleyball but chose to focus on smacking softballs instead. Before that, she swung the bat with the boys in T-ball, then got competitive with club softball when she was around 8.
"(Volleyball) didn't really stick. I'm not very tall," the 5-foot-5 Sowa said with a laugh. "I love (softball). It's like my stress reliever. It's just everything to me. It makes me really happy, and I'm happy that I stuck with it for so long."
And the girl who swings a mean stick is thrilled she's sticking with No. 1.