By Nate Thompson
MUSKEGON – Megan Jean and Katie Hendrickson comprise one of the most dangerous hitting duos in national junior college softball.
Jean and Hendrickson were both elite high school prospects who could have chosen from several different colleges, including four-year schools.
But they opted for MCC, and this spring they’ve been powering a strong Jayhawk squad with a combined 15 home runs and 54 RBIs through 26 games.
“They both kind of fell into our laps,” admitted MCC Coach Ryan Schalk. “We feel pretty fortunate that they’re on our side.”
Jean, a speedy sophomore from Sault Ste. Marie, initially scoured the collegiate scene for an opportunity to play volleyball or softball at a four-year university. But a chance email to former MCC coach Matt Houseman sparked a courtship.
“It was either the summer before my junior or senior year in high school, and I emailed Coach Houseman and said I was interested in possibly playing there,” Jean recalled.
Houseman, who had spotted Jean at a blue-chip softball camp a year earlier, almost immediately texted her back, saying he had planned on calling her with a recruiting pitch.
“It was funny how it worked out,” Jean said. “It’s like it was in God’s plan.”
Hendrickson was even closer to calling another school home.
After a tremendous career at North Muskegon – including an All-State senior season in which she hit over .500 and won 21 games in the pitching circle – she had several different collegiate options. She verbally committed to walk on at the University of North Dakota, a Division 1 school.
“It wasn’t until (this past) July that I decided not to go there,” Hendrickson said. “Now I couldn’t be happier (with the decision). It’s all about family, and the family aspect on this team is so strong.”
The Jayhawks are averaging nearly eight runs per game, with all but one starter hitting at least .300. The pitching has also been strong, with the team earned run average of 2.68.
But they are 18-10 following Tuesday’s doubleheader sweep of Grand Rapids Community College. That’s certainly a good record, but the best may be yet to come for the Jayhawks.
Team defense has been a challenge thus far, according to Schalk.
“With nearly an all freshmen infield, we’ve had to overcome some rough stretches,” he said. “But if you’re averaging eight runs a game and only giving up a shade under three, it’s only a matter of time until the results change.”
Both Jean and Hendrickson share the same mindset – that the Jayhawks about to break out.
“Our whole lineup is strong, not just me and MJ,” Hendrickson said. “We know there’s things that we’ve needed to work on, but if we continue to improve every time we step on the field, we’re expecting nothing less than a trip to nationals.”
Jean and Hendrickson will be among the catalysts if that goal is realized.
Going into this week Jean sported a .345 average with six homers and 20 RBIs, while Hendrickson had nine homers with 34 RBIs and a .345 batting average. Hendrickson’s also MCC’s top pitcher with a 4-2 record and sparkling 1.96 ERA.
“We’re very alike,” said Jean, who has already committed to play her final two seasons at Ferris State. “We’re both pitchers but we’re both kind of power hitters. I feel we’re like a dynamic duo, because if I don’t get a hit, she comes through and vice versa. We pick each other up all the time.”