For Megan Dedrick, the biggest adjustment from baseball to softball wasn’t throwing a bigger ball or playing on a smaller field.
The biggest adjustment was the chanting.
“I’m still getting used to all the cheering that’s involved,” Dedrick said with a giggle when discussing the team dugout chants that are so prevalent in the softball world.
Otherwise, Snohomish County’s resident female baseball star is making the transition between sports look like a routine grounder to short.
The Everett High School graduate is making an instant impact at the NCAA Division I level, starting in the middle infield for the Loyola Marymount University softball team in her first season with the team.
And what makes the sophomore’s accomplishment all the more remarkable is that this is just her second year playing the sport.
Dedrick didn’t play softball growing up. She was known around Snohomish County as the girl who played baseball. Not only did she choose baseball rather than softball in her youth, she continued playing baseball in high school, spending all four years at Everett High with the varsity team and earning All-Wesco recognition as a second baseman. She even got a shot with the U.S. women’s national baseball team.
As for softball, that was never even on the radar.
“I never really played competitive softball,” Dedrick said. “I played on our middle school team, but that was basically slowpitch and not very competitive. The softball girls at Everett really wanted me to play, but I wanted to play baseball as long as I could.”
Dedrick faced that reckoning upon graduating from Everett in 2016. At that point she didn’t see a path forward in baseball. As someone who’s happy just taking grounders for hours on end, Dedrick wanted a way to stay on the field, so she decided to give softball a shot. She enrolled at Everett Community College with the intention of playing in 2017, but before the season began she suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee, which pushed her softball debut back a year.
But oh, what a debut it turned out to be. Dedrick was an immediate star on the softball diamond. Last year she batted .494 with 11 home runs and 48 RBI in 48 games for the Trojans while playing spectacular defense at shortstop. For her efforts she was named the Northwest Athletic Conference North Region’s Most Valuable Player.
“I think pitching was the biggest difference (between baseball and softball),” Dedrick said. “Fielding is pretty similar, you just don’t have as much time to field the ball and throw to first, and it’s harder to make a double play. But hitting is way different. Pitches come at you at a completely different angle, and the ball can move up or down where in baseball it’s all downhill and the ball doesn’t rise at all.
“But the rules are so similar that my baseball IQ has turned into softball IQ.”
What did her softball teammates think about her baseball background?
“I don’t really know,” Dedrick answered. “I think they expected me to dress like a baseball player, but I dress like all the other softball girls.”
Dedrick’s sudden success on the softball field led to a sudden opportunity at a four-year college. It all began when her father Jim used a connection to contact Loyola Marymount coach Sami Strinz-Ward last June.
“Her father sent me an email,” Strinz-Ward recalled. “I get emails all the time, but for whatever reason that one stood out. He said his daughter had a baseball background, and generally softball players with a baseball background are fundamentally sound, especially on defense. Our shortstop had just graduated, so I responded.”
Strinz-Ward asked for some video, which Dedrick had thanks to her older sister, Alee, who recorded Dedrick’s games throughout the season. Strinz-Ward liked what she saw, and less than a month after the initial email was sent Dedrick had a spot on the team.
Since then Dedrick has proven she belongs. Loyola Marymount has a solid program as the Lions are currently 21-14, and last year the team won the NISC tournament, which is the softball version of the NIT. Yet Dedrick has been a starter since the moment she arrived on campus. Through 26 games she’s batting .280, which is third on the team, and she was recently moved into the cleanup spot in the order. She was playing shortstop until Lions second baseman Maddison Flores suffered an injury, at which point Dedrick switched to second base.
“She’s done everything that I expected her to do, plus some,” Strinz-Ward said. “She has a tremendous work ethic, a great mentality and I’m very pleased with her.”
Were there ways in which Dedrick’s game demonstrated her background was in baseball rather than softball?
“Honestly, not really,” Strinz-Ward said. “The games are so similar, really the only thing that’s different is the way pitchers are coming overhand or underhand. I think our game is a little faster because the distances are shorter, but I don’t think that was anything she was behind on by any means. She was a little concerned about pitching at this level, but she handled the adjustment just fine.”
Dedrick admits that she misses baseball, but she’s glad she made the decision to switch to softball.
“I’m super happy I did it,” Dedrick said. “But I’m also really happy I waited as long as I did because it really worked out for me.”
Indeed, the former baseball star seems to have softball figured out — except for the chanting.