Samantha Freeland wasn’t sure if the .672 batting average she had this year was her best ever.
“I’m really not sure because I don’t really look at my stats,” the Delaware Military Academy (Wilmington, Delaware) shortstop said. “I don’t look at how well I do in games until the offseason.”
Well, it’s the offseason. And Delaware’s Player of the Year in softball had quite the senior season. With that prodigious batting average came 30 runs, seven walks, 14 stolen bases and 11 RBIs batting atop DMA’s lineup in 18 regular season games.
The Seahawks were undefeated (18-0) in the regular season and lost to eventual champion Smyrna in the semifinals of the DIAA Softball Tournament to finish 20-1.
So what did Freeland think when she looked at the numbers?
“I was proud of myself,” said Freeland, who will play at Marist College. “After coming back from an injury, realizing that I could be great and could be better but also I could also take it to another level.”
The injury she’s referring to happened last April vs. Lake Forest in DMA’s fourth game of the year. A ball was hit out into short center field and Freeland raced toward center to make a play. A collision with the team’s center fielder resulted in a broken left arm for Freeland, who would miss the remainder of the season.
Instead of playing, she sat next to coach Roman Allin.
“Watching from the bench gave me a whole different perspective,” she said. “It showed me what it’s like to sit next to a coach and see what he’s seeing and what pitches he would call.”
Freeland, a four-year starter, didn’t miss a beat once the 2019 season started. She had a few hits, including a double, in a 15-0 rout over Conrad (New Castle County, Delaware) in the season opener. From there, she never stopped hitting.
“She was a catalyst for the team. She got on, we scored. She’s just an unbelievable talent,” Allin said. “She’s got control of the whole offensive side of the ball and puts it where she wants to. She gets out because she hits the ball too hard at somebody or just gets under it a little bit. And the speed she has on the bases just shakes everything up.”
She’s just as good on defense, too.
“I’ve never seen a shortstop like this in 10-plus years,” Allin said. “I can’t describe the plays that she makes. She makes plays behind third base, up the middle, like they’re easy. Plays that you don’t see kids even getting to the ball, let alone getting to it and making an out somewhere.
“Balls in that dead zone down left field behind third base. The triangle between 2nd, short and center field. She catches all of them like they’re nothing.”
When asked about the top memory from this season, both player and coach mentioned the 8-2 win against Appoquinimink (Middletown, Delaware) at Caravel. DMA scored five runs in the first and that was plenty, especially since Freeland made “four or five” different plays, Allin said, that saved runs and showed her defensive prowess.
“She took the game over,” Allin said.
In the 2-1 loss to Smyrna (Delaware) in the state semifinals, Freeland scored the lone run on Nikki Elliott’s sacrifice fly in the first inning. A walk-off triple in the seventh ended DMA’s season and Freeland’s high school career.
Next up is Marist, where Freeland committed to play in the summer between her freshman and sophomore years. She’ll major in biology and hopes to play professional softball one day.
As for DMA? Next comes life after arguably the best shortstop in school history.
“Let’s be quite honest, we have some very good players that can play the shortstop position, probably better than most,” Allin said. “But nobody is going to replace what Sam did. I can’t see it happening. I’m not saying it never could, but it would take a special, special talent to have 45 hits, have three errors all year, hit over .600.
“She’s going to be irreplaceable that way.”