By Steve Gunn
But veteran Mona Shores Coach Jason Crago isn’t surprised. He figured something special would happen when Dew hit high school.
“I saw her as a fifth-grader hitting off the tee, and the girls I had on the team at the time were just like ‘Wow,’’’ Crago said about his slugging sophomore first baseman.
“There was no question when she came up that she would be an impact player right away. She took a few games to adjust to varsity, but then we played a game against Reeths-Puffer and she finally let one go. It was a real head-turner.”
Dew has belted quite a few more homers since then.
Last year, as a freshman, she set a new Mona Shores single-season record with eight home runs.
This year she’s picked up where she left off, with five round-trippers so far. Her latest homer – last week in a game against an undefeated Oakridge team – set a new school career home run record of 13.
That’s right. Dew is only in tenth grade, and she’s already the Sailors all-time home run champion. By the time she’s done, she may have a total that will be very tough to match.
“It’s kind of crazy, because I’m only a sophomore,” said Dew, 16, about her record-breaking home run. “I was super excited. I had been struggling in the game before, so that boosted my confidence again.”
She said her offensive production improved tremendously when she started working with local hitting coach Kevin Dalson, a Norton Shores resident.
“I’ve been working with him since the fifth grade,” said Dew, who admits some people call her ‘Mountain Dew’ because of her 6-1 height. ‘I still go to him when I’m struggling or just feel like I need to go. He has helped me a lot.”
Dew is more than a home run hitter. Last year she had a superb .417 batting average, and this year she’s hitting .400 with 21 RBIs.
But it’s the hits that land over the fence that draw everyone’s attention.
“I’m always thinking about it (hitting homers), but it doesn’t overwhelm me to the point where that’s all I want to hit,” Dew said.
Sometimes Dew’s homers come almost by accident, due to her remarkable power, according to Crago.
“A few times they have just been pop flies that didn’t happen to come down on this side of the fence,” the coach said. “She’s a super nice kid. She doesn’t look like she would want to hurt a fly, when she gets in the batter’s box she’s something else.”
Dew’s home run tendencies have been contagious. The Sailors have hit 10 round-trippers so far this season, which is a pretty big total in a sport that’s never been known for home runs.
Mackenzie Quinn has three home runs for Mona Shores while Mackenzie Willeke and Lauren Patterson each have one.
“They are coming more and more,” said Crago, who has been coaching the Sailors for 16 years. “My first five or six years here, we didn’t have any girls hitting them, but over the past few years they’ve been coming in droves.”
While she will probably have a lot more homers by the time she graduates, and will surely hear from bigger schools, Dew says Ferris has the type of program she’s looking for.
“I like the coaches there and what they seem to expect from you,” said Dew, who wants to become a pharmacist after college. “They say school comes before softball, because school will help you the rest of your life, and softball is only for four years.”