In September 2012, Jess Poulin was interviewed by the Morning Sentinel. At that point, Poulin had already established herself as a soccer goalkeeper at Husson University but was looking for a bigger role with the school’s softball program.
“It would ultimately be nice to get some playing time, show them what I can do,” Poulin said then. “Back home, softball, that was my thing.”
It took a while, but Poulin is getting that chance and shining while doing so. Entering Tuesday’s games, Poulin was hitting .333 in 75 at bats. She had a .425 on-base percentage and a .440 slugging percentage for the Eagles (19-7 overall, 9-0 in the North Atlantic Conference).
Poulin, an Albion native and Lawrence High School graduate, played sparingly on the softball team as a freshman. After starting regularly as a shortstop at Lawrence, she spent most of her time with Husson warming up pitchers as a backup catcher. She hit .350 in 20 at-bats, and walked six times for a .500 on-base percentage. Sensing another season on the bench, Poulin decided not to play softball last spring.
“Honestly, it just wasn’t the right time for me,” Poulin said. “I liked working at that point, and I wasn’t getting an opportunity to play.”
Things began to change when Amanda Bourgoin resigned as Husson softball coach last year and was replaced by Kristie Hawkins. A few players contacted Poulin about returning. Furthermore, Poulin is also friends with the sister of Husson assistant coach Ashley Kelley.
“Her sister was kind of on me, and said, â€˜Coach is really nice. You should check her out,’” Poulin said. “I went to that first practice and I was sold. I missed it way too much.”
“I had known about her,” Hawkins said. “I knew she was a great athlete. Obviously, when she reached out to me, I was pretty excited about the possibility of her coming back out to the team.”
Husson began its season with nine games in Florida, March 9-14. In practice, Poulin remembered the coaches complimenting the way she played and dove for balls, and said that’s what she needed to do to be a starter. She started every game at second base in Florida, and was batting fifth in the lineup by the end of the trip.
“I think she’s done a fantastic job,” Hawkins said. “She really won us over when we went to Florida.”
The fast start was doubly important for Poulin, who was a little nervous that her game would be rusty after a year off.
“It was nice to see, that’s for sure, that I still had it in me,” Poulin said. “Even my grandparents and my parents were like, â€˜It’s just like riding a bike, Jess.’ They were right.”
Poulin was also able to adjust well to second base, a position she remembers playing only once before becoming a starter this season.
“It’s tough, because I have massive love for shortstop,” Poulin said. “I think I played in an all-star game once at second base. I didn’t like it then. But I’m contributing to the team the best I can.”
The adjustment to the other side of the diamond has gone better than Poulin could have expected. She carries a .970 fielding percentage and has made only three errors this season, and all three errors were in games the Eagles won by at least three runs anyway.
“She’s like a vacuum over there,” Hawkins said. “Some plays, you are amazed that she gets to the ball. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments from teams that we’ve faced, that “your second baseman does a great job,” and she really does.”
Hawkins also likes the vocal leadership Poulin brings to the field, and Poulin loves the chance to feel like she’s a key member of a winning team.
“I love the sport as it is,” Poulin said. “I obviously didn’t really feel the love my freshman year. We won a NAC title, but I wasn’t really a part of it.
“I love this team. I wish I could play with them year-round. That’s how much fun I’m having with them right now.”