As a high school softball pitcher, Sarah Klopfer was dominant. She led Liberty Union to the state championship game her junior season and earned All-Ohio honors for three consecutive years before graduating this past spring.
That talent took Klopfer to Hillsdale, Mich., where she pitches for Hillsdale College. Although just a freshman, she already has been expected to be an ace on the Chargers’ staff. However, Klopfer said pitching against Division II opponents is worlds away from dominating high school games.
“It’s different because they are bigger and stronger,” she said. “I’m not the oldest one on the field anymore. I kind of have to leave it up to the defense to make some plays.”
Regardless, Klopfer already is one of the leaders in the circle for Hillsdale.
She is tied for first in appearances and has the second most starts for the Chargers with eight.
Klopfer said she knew Hillsdale would have a young staff — 94 percent of innings have been pitched by freshman or sophomores this season — but that she was unsure where she would fit in.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” she said. “(In college) we’ve narrowed down to the best of the best.
“The hits off the bats are a little harder than I expected, I’m just trying to find the ends of the bats and the handles,” she added.
Klopfer has pitched a little more than 52 innings in her 12 appearances, and is 3-4 with a 5.01 ERA.
She is pitching to contact more at the college level, striking out an average of 3.39 batters per game compared to nearly eight per contest during her senior year at Liberty Union.
Klopfer said fine-tuning her location to find weaker spots on the bat is her biggest priority.
Both her college and high school coaches have been supportive throughout the transition, she said.
Klopfer has been keeping tabs on the Lions, and is looking forward to getting to some games this season when she isn’t shouldering the load for Hillsdale.
Lawrence content to sit and wait
Since November, Tiffin University has competed in 19 indoor and outdoor track meets. Although former Fairfield Union shot put standout Zane Lawrence is on the Dragons’ roster, he hasn’t thrown and won’t do so this season.
The former Falcon was not able to participate in a summer weight training program, and the Tiffin coaching staff elected to red shirt Lawrence, in part, to help him adjust to the 16-pound college shot put, which is four pounds heavier than the one thrown in high school.
The new role has taken some adjusting.
“Not being able to contribute to the team has a weird feeling, it makes you feel less important,” Lawrence said. “As my coach always tells me, it’s just prepping me for next year when I will be contributing.
“To go to college and back to being a freshman and a nobody, it was a rough sport for me. Eventually I got my mind right and my attitude a lot better,” he added.
The Dragons’ freshman is compensating with hard work in practice and has been entering open meets to hone his skills.
Lawrence has thrown more than 49 feet this season, just six feet off his Fairfield Union record in his senior season.
Lawrence said he didn’t anticipate being able to throw that far in his first year with the 16-pound shot; he wants to clear 50 feet this season.
He said although it was difficult at first, he is certain red shirting was the right decision.
“I’ve learned a lot and I’ve gotten a lot better technically in the weight room and out in the pit,” Lawrence said. “My mentality is way better than if I had just gone into it. I’m physically a lot more built and a lot healthier. Next year, I feel like I could do some bigger things than if I hadn’t red shirted this year.”