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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Softball

Sophomore hitter leads team to better year-over-year record


Sarah Queen has been the offensive leader for the softball team most of the season. In 42 starts she leads the team with six home runs and 26 RBIs. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

Statistics seem to define players and teams. But there are things that statistics do not define like hustle, toughness, effort, or sophomore infielder Sarah Queen.

Queen was the first to admit she has never really wanted to do anything else other than play softball. She played other sports in middle school, but they never enthralled her the way softball has.

“I’ve played softball since I was four,” Queen said. “It’s the one I’ve played the longest, so I just played basketball and volleyball to help me get through middle school before re-dedicating myself to softball.”

That re-dedication paid off for Queen and the Cougars, as she has become a vital part of the softball team’s 2016-2017 recruiting class. After an uneven freshman season, this year Queen established herself as the type of player that can stand in the box and make solid contact against anyone, leading the team in both homeruns — six — and RBIs — 26.

Queen, a business student, also found success in the classroom and she earned a spot on the 2016-2017 Academic All-America Team and was a NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete that same year. Queen said that off the field, she just focuses on school to maintain her GPA and continue making good grades.

Junior infielder Brooke Vannoy has played with Queen since they were on the same club team under coach Connie May, the TXFC Scrap Yard Dawgs, as teenagers. In addition to being teammates, Vannoy and Queen are roommates at UH, so they spend a lot of time together. Vannoy said there’s much more to Queen than just softball and studying.

“We love to watch Scandal,” Vannoy said with a laugh. “I’m always the one cooking, and she’s always the one cleaning and doing the dishes. We just enjoy hanging out together, watching Netflix and chillin’. She’s a total goofball, and she never stops talking, but she’s also a really good friend, without fail.”

As someone who has known Queen for years, Vannoy has seen many changes in her friend. However, there is one change that has made more of an impression on Vannoy than anything else.

“Well, we’ve played together since we were really young, so of course we’ve made some dumb mistakes and stuff like that, but she definitely has become more mature,” Vannoy said. “She knows what’s worth doing and what’s not worth doing. She acts based on the right decision, whether or not her impulse tells her it may not be the most fun decision. She’s just matured a lot as a person.”

While it is not an end-all be-all in determining a player’s value, there is visible, statistical proof of Queen’s maturation on the field. In her second season with the Cougars, Queen has improved in every major statistical category to help lead her team to a 27-16 record with 11 games left in the regular season.

The team is on pace to win 34 games this season, a seven-game improvement over the regular season from last year that has coincided with her improvement at the plate and in the field.

This all comes after a shoulder injury last season that could have had effected Queen’s confidence. But instead of faltering, Queen came back better than before due to her steadfast mentality, Vannoy said.

“Last year, she was out for a while because she had a broken shoulder and that really upset her, obviously, because she really wanted to be out there on the field playing,” Vannoy said. “So this year she got healthy again, and she has really capitalized on the opportunity that she’s been given. She got out of her own head, didn’t let the mental part affect her as much. She just goes up there and swings the bat.”

It’s something Queen echoed when asked about her mentality at bat.

“I just relax in the box and try not to think too much,” she said.

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