For high school spring athletes looking to continue their playing careers in college, junior year is crucial. As much as senior season is important because it’s the final year playing with high school friends, junior season is when spring athletes draw the attention of college coaches. Then, over the summer, those athletes can further the recruiting process by speaking with coaches at showcases and travel-ball tournaments.
Like other juniors, that process is in jeopardy for Old Rochester shortstop and catcher Meaghan Dufresne, as sports remain on hold while students continue to learn from home during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s definitely different (learning from home),” Dufresne said. “And it’s a little hard to get motivated when you’re in your own house. So, every subject, I move to a different spot in my house (to study) and it helps.”
Unlike academics, training from home has offered no distractions whatsoever for Dufresne. She’d rather be playing games, but she’s spending two to three hours a day training — any combination of running, hitting and throwing — to ensure she is improving her skills. Plus, she wants to be ready for the high school softball season, should there be one.
“I’m just trying to think positive that we will have a season and that I will have a summer season to prove myself to (college) coaches,” she said. “(I’m) just hitting in the cages every day and I have this playlist of songs that puts me in a good mood and (helps me) think of all the time.”
But if the 2020 spring season is canceled, it may not impact Dufresne in the same way it will other members of the recruiting class of 2021. Prior to the 2020 spring season, she had been in contact with Assumption College and American International College, both of which have Division II athletic programs, as well as a pair of Division III universities, Fitchburg State and Westfield State.
“She’s a fabulous player,” Old Rochester softball head coach Don DiBiasio said. “Meaghan would make a Division III starter anywhere she went because she’s a fabulous hitter. If she went to a (Division) II or I, depends what they need her for — whether she would start or not start. But, she’s also a very smart student. She’s a straight-A student so she’ll do well wherever she goes.”
As much as Dufresne already has options, she wanted to get in touch with more schools to cast as wide of a net as possible. She’s still making contact, but a junior spring season would make the process easier for her.
DiBiasio thinks Dufresne will be all set, but he does think it’s important she gets the chance to play travel ball over the summer and possibly into the fall.
“The college coaches look more at the travel leagues than they do with the high school ball,” he said. “Very few college coaches come out to watch any high school games. Number one, they’re still in their seasons for most of our season. And they might look at what the standings are how they’re doing, but they know that the good games and the good talent is playing summer ball. And that’s what they want to look at.
“She’ll be fine. She’ll get enough looks during the summer and the fall with her travel team to be able to make a decision on where she wants to go.”
Despite the way things are trending, Dufresne has not lost hope for the spring season, and she has a little advice for others who are trying to do the same.
“Be positive and keep working on your skill,” she said. “Because when the season hopefully does come they’ll be the best and ready to go on unlike everyone else.”
By Nick Friar