SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: A sad end to a stellar yearAfter batting above .500 all year, Katie Sohn spent the last four games of her senior season sidelined with a broken collarbone
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
Katie Sohn started off the 2010 season at a blistering pace, getting on base more often than not and stealing her way around the diamond game after game.
The senior was still hitting over .500 at the end of the season, and everything seemed in place for the Northwood Evergreens to make a strong push in the WIAA softball playoffs.
But before tournament play got underway, Sohn saw her season come to an end.
On the last day of the regular season, Sohn lined up at shortstop for a May 18 contest between the Evergreens and Clear Lake. It was still early in the game, with Clear Lake runners on first and second, when Sohn fielded a ball between second and third base. As Sohn scooped up the ball, the runner headed to third base barreled into her.
Sohn felt something pop when she was hit, and from where they watched on the sidelines, her teammates and coach knew the injury was serious.
“You could hear it,” Northwood coach Beth Block said. “It was horrible.”
Linda Featherly, a trained EMT and mother of Northwood catcher Lisa Featherly, examined Sohn at the field. She told the senior she had suffered a broken bone.
Sohn’s clavicle had been snapped in two places.
“I heard the pop,” Sohn said. “At first I thought I dislocated my shoulder or something.”
But Sohn’s injury had turned out to be more serious, and with her collarbone broken, Sohn’s season and high school softball career were both over.
In the regional playoffs, when Sohn most wanted to be on the field, she was forced to watch her teammates from the dugout.
“It was terrible,” Sohn said. “I wanted to play so bad, the first game I was out I cried.”
Sohn, the 2010 Superior Telegram Softball Player of the Year, watched her teammates as they advanced to the regional finals, but she longed to be back playing shortstop. The Evergreens would have appreciated her presence on the field too.
“She was very missed in tournament play,” Block said.
For the season, Sohn hit .520. In Central Lakeland Conference play, her batting average was exactly .500. She had 23 RBIs, 20 walks and a team high 29 stolen bases. Her on-base percentage was a dazzling .667, and she finished the year with a slugging percentage of .760 as Northwood’s leadoff batter.
“Her best year ever, by far,” Block said. “Great stats.”
Sohn has started for the Evergreens since her sophomore season. She played in center field that year and batted second in the lineup.
“I was getting a lot of playing time and a lot of practice time,” Sohn said.
The early experience helped Sohn build her skills and her confidence, she said.
“A lot of players are still young; they’re still getting the feel of everything and they’re not that confident,” Sohn said. “You’ve just got to keep trying hard, listen to your coaches and you’ll get there.”
In her junior season, she shifted into the leadoff role, and she competed for and won the leadoff spot again this season.
Sohn’s numbers at the plate this year were easily the best of her career, but even with her high average and on-base percentage, the Northwood shortstop doesn’t think hitting is her strongest skill. She feels where she really stands out is her base running.
“There were a couple times where I’ve had blonde moments, but most of the time I’m pretty good at it,” Sohn said. “Even if the coach doesn’t tell me to steal, sometimes I still do.”
Sohn’s 29 stolen bases this season, while impressive, were not unexpected. From the time she started with the Evergreens as a sophomore, Sohn has made good use of her speed. Opponents quickly learned to keep an eye on the sneaky shortstop, but Sohn still managed to steal bases at will.
Had Sohn been healthy for the WIAA playoffs this year, Northwood may have slipped into the sectional tournament. As it was, the Evergreens reached the regional finals, defeating Butternut in the second round to advance.
Butternut had knocked Northwood out of the playoffs the past two seasons, so seeing the Evergreens finally get the upper hand gave Sohn and the other seniors a sense of closure.
Sohn regretted being unable to play out the softball season, but she has two other successful sports seasons from her senior year to look back upon.
Sohn played on the Northwood volleyball team that advanced to the sectional tournament and was the starting point guard of the girls basketball team, which earned its first state berth in school history.
“I had a blast. It was a lot of fun my senior year, especially doing something in each sport that we’ve never done before,” Sohn said.