Laura Zenk had a memorable freshman season for the Eastern Connecticut State University softball team.
The former Hermon High School outfielder appeared in 37 games for the Warriors, starting 21, and had the opportunity to play in the NCAA Division III College World Series in Tyler, Texas.
Eastern Connecticut State went 2-2 in the CWS and was eliminated in the semifinals by Emory University. Its other loss came against eventual national champion Texas Lutheran.
The Warriors finished at 36-13.
Zenk, who was primarily used as a left fielder and designated player and also did some pinch-running, called the College World Series a “crazy experience.
“All of the teams were amazing. I loved the level of competition. It was very humbling, in a way. Here we were from this little town in Connecticut [Willimantic], and I’m a girl from a little town in Maine.”
Zenk had a productive season, batting .261. Despite her limited at-bats (46), she tied for the team lead with three triples and was second in walks (15). Among players with at least 40 at-bats, she led the team in on-base percentage (.452).
She scored 15 runs, tied for third in stolen bases with seven (in nine tries) and drove in six runs.
“I love her game, I love her attitude and I love her work ethic,” Eastern Connecticut State assistant and hitting coach Mark Correia said. “She is one of our fastest players, if not our fastest player. She has a great eye at the plate, a high softball IQ and a sweet swing. She also has a very strong arm.”
Zenk said she had a decent year and had quite a bit of playing time.
“We really worked a lot on [improving] our hitting skills,” Zenk said. “The pitchers in college throw harder and have more movement on the ball than the pitchers in high school.”
She said the hardest part is adapting to limited playing time after playing every game in high school.
“I learned how to work with everybody and how to support my teammates. You have to accept your role and pump up your teammates,” she said.
ECSU head coach Diana Pepin said Zenk accepted her role and was a good contributor.
“She just needs to get stronger in the weight room. She could have a breakout season for us next year,” Pepin said. “And she’s a great kid.”
Correia is trying to develop her into a slap hitter to complete her offensive arsenal.
“A lot of slappers can’t hit. Laura can hit, and she can bunt,” said Correia, who said as a slap hitter Zenk will be a triple threat that will make her more difficult for opposing pitchers to deal with.
Zenk said Correia helped her a great deal with hitting.
She is going to play in a number of softball tournaments this summer and will spend a lot of time in the weight room.
“I have to get a lot stronger and make sure my footwork is good. I want my batting average to be a lot higher next season,” Zenk said.
At Hermon, she was the center fielder and leadoff hitter. At ECSU, she hit eighth or ninth in the lineup.
Zenk shared left field with senior Calli Duthrie, so she will have the inside track on winning the starting job beginning next fall.
“I’m really excited to go back and play more next year than I did this year,” Zenk said.
The All-Penobscot Valley Conference softball player, who also cheered and played soccer, is a criminology-sociology major in the honors program with a minor in psychology.
She would like to eventually join the Federal Bureau of Investigation.