By David Fong
Regional Sports Content Manager
WILMINGTON — Three years ago, Danielle Monnier wasn’t concerned about putting her name in the record books for the Wilmington College softball team — she was concerned with getting her name put on a line-up card ever again.
“Honestly, thinking back to when I was a freshman, I thought after that season my next three years were going to be miserable,” said Monnier, a Houston High School graduate who now is in the home stretch of her softball career at Wilmington. “Coming from Houston, I was a big fish in a small pond. I thought I could come in and do the same things I did in high school — hello, welcome to college athletics. I got rocked my freshman year.”
While “rocked” may be stretching, Monnier did have her ups and downs as a freshman pitcher. Her freshman campaign started off well enough, as she won four of her first five starts, but she would finish the season 4-9 with a 6.11 in 15 starts. It was respectable enough considering she was a true freshman pitching at the collegiate level, but it certainly could in no way portend how her career progressed since then.
“It was a big adjustment going from high school to college,” said Monnier who earned All-Ohio honors and was named Shelby County Player of the Year as a senior. “I had to take things a lot more seriously. It helped getting that first year under my belt.
“For me, the biggest adjustment was learning how to hit my spots. I’m not going to go up there and throw a bunch of junk — I’m still a power pitcher — but I had to learn that I can’t just go out there and throw it by everyone like I did in high school.”
Monnier made all the necessary adjustments and put in the work to improve her game — and her last three seasons pitching for Wilmington have made that freshman season seem like a distant memory.
In a recent game against Spalding University, Monnier notched her 130th strikeout of the season — which leads the Ohio Athletic Conference — good enough to break her own single-season school record. She now holds the top-three single-season strikeout marks in school history. She also holds Wilmington’s career records for strikeouts (425) and wins (35).
Last year as a junior, she set school single-season records for earned run average (1.45) and wins (12). With a pair of regular-season games remaining against Mount Union Saturday, Monnier is 11-10 in 25 apperances (19 starts) with a 2.47 ERA.
As she gets set to close out her career as the most dominant pitcher in Wilmington College history, Monnier can’t help but think back about how far she’s come since that tumultuous freshman season.
“As a freshman, I just wanted something to do,” she said. “I was a three-sport athlete in high school and I lived on a farm, so I was always busy. Even now, I like to stay busy. When I’m not in class or playing softball, I still go to a lot of open gyms with the (Wilmington) basketball team. People have seen me at a couple of open gyms with the volleyball team.”
Monnier is set to graduate this spring with a degree in middle school education. She’s currently looking for a job and said she’ll like take a year off from softball — but would eventually like to return to the sport as a coach once she has a full-time job and his able to put down roots.
“I think I’ll want to coach eventually,” she said. “I love playing softball. I know I’m going to miss it once I’m done playing.”
Contact David Fong at (937) 440-5228 or firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong