The recent history of Colby College softball is that of a team in rebuilding mode. When the Mules went 12-20 last spring, it was their best record since 2009. In the world of college softball, where a .400 batting average won’t get you in the top 200 players in the country in Division III, Colby hasn’t had a batter hit .400 since 2010.
The Mules are turning things around this year and sophomore second baseman Meaghan Lewia is as good an example of that as anyone. After a solid freshman season in which she hit .302 and led Colby in extra-base hits, Lewia is hitting .438 this year, and leads the Mules in both on-base percentage and slugging average. Not coincidentally, Colby is off to an 8-6 start.
“She’s got a sweet stroke,” Colby coach Kristina Katori said. “She doesn’t swing at pitches that are out of the strike zone. She has a great eye and she’s a contact hitter — with power. That was exactly what we needed at the top of our lineup.”
Lewia batted leadoff during her high school years at Wells, so she arrived at Colby with the goes-without-saying-but-sometimes-players-forget-it knowledge that you can’t start a rally without someone getting on base. With Lewia, Emily Schatz and Tori Sansone leading the way, the Mules have doubled their walks per game over last season.
“We’ve made a couple adjustments in practice with how we’re going to approach our hitting fundamentals,” Katori said. “(Meaghan’s) done a great job just working hard with all the drills we do in practice. I think there’s an added confidence, too. The more comfortable you are in the box usually relates to how confident you are at the plate, and she just has a ton of confidence right now.”
“This year I’ve actually tried not to look at stats,” Lewia said. “I think I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well lately.”
Lewia prefers to be listed at 5-foot-4, so she looks more like a second baseman than a power hitter. But her numbers suggest she could bat anywhere in the lineup and be an asset.
“Because she has such a great stroke through the ball and can get her hips through the ball, she surprises quite a few people,” Katori said. “She’s really, truly a doubles hitter.”
Second base is also a new position for Lewia, who played shortstop last year. She said she had a strained muscle in her shoulder, but she can now throw without pain. At second, she’s made only three errors in 14 games.
“She’s just a smart, heady player and her athleticism is huge,” Katori said. “She can handle slappers, she can cover the bunt and she can get balls up the middle.”
“It’s definitely an adjustment playing second,” Lewia said. “It’s a little bit of a spin off the ball if somebody hits it, different coverages and stuff. But it’s fun. I like playing second base and it’s going well so far.”
“It’s going well so far” is what you could say about Colby’s season. The Mules have already won more games in the New England Small College Athletic Conference than they did all of last season.
“We lost two people from last year, so we had a lot of returners, a lot of people who are used to playing together,” Lewia said. “And we have a lot of young talent coming in this year. All of our freshmen have contributed to our team. (We) just push each other to become better and I think we’re very competitive this year because of that.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243