Nicole Lundstrom can remember playing softball as far back as she can remember. One of her earliest memories is playing catch with her older sister Jen. As the two grew, Jen started pitching and needed someone to catch for her. From then on, Nicole was hooked. Now a senior at Dighton-Rehoboth, Lundstrom has developed into one of the best catchers in Eastern Mass.
“At first, catching for my sister was really scary. I never caught for someone that threw as hard as she did,” said Lundstrom. “But it pushed me to be a better catcher.”
Like her sister Jen, who plays for Curry College, Nicole will also play at the next level. Lundstrom verbally committed to play for Syracuse before her junior year. With her senior year soon coming to a close, Lundstrom said she’s very excited about playing for the Orange.
“It was such a crazy feeling when I committed. Deep down I knew Syracuse was going to be my school,” she said. “It was crazy that I verbaled with them before I was even able to get my license.”
Although she’s gotten her summer workout from Syracuse, Lundstrom has bigger things to focus on first: the state tournament.
The Falcons are 11-7 and hope to make an impact in the postseason. Last year their season came to an abrupt, heart-wrenching end when they fell to Silver Lake, 5-4, in eight innings in the Division 1 South quarterfinals. Lundstrom said the team’s goal is to make it at least one step further.
Lundstrom has been powering the Falcons from the plate. She is batting an impressive .667 average (32 of 48) and has belted eight home runs and collected 28 RBIs.
“She has the best swing I’ve ever seen,” said senior captain Meghan Duffy. “Her hitting is great. As a player she’s very intense. She’s always into the game.”
Duffy, who plays third, also said Lundstrom has a positive attitude, is a great role model, and “helps pick everyone up. She’ll be the first person to give you a high five.”
Lundstrom said her mentality has changed this season and that experience has helped her. With her travel team, the Rhode Island Thunder Gold, she travels the country playing in the most competitive showcase tournaments.
“I just feel comfortable playing. I’m more comfortable and confident in my abilities as I get older,” she said.
Thunder coach Dave Lotti, who has helped hundreds of players to be recruited to top schools, said Lundstrom was a “big time recruit.’’
“She’s good at everything,” said Lotti. “She’s a stud defensively, with her quickness and over hand throwing. And offensively, her hitting is great. She’s batted third in our line-up since her freshman year. She’s faced top pitching all over the country and is ready for the next level.”
Lotti spoke highly of her leadership abilities.
“To be a good catcher you need to be a good leader. She has great rapport with all of the pitchers,” said Lotti. “If I was a pitcher I’d want to throw to her.”
For now Lundstrom is focusing on one day at a time.
“I’m going game to game. My head is always focused on what’s next,” she said. “I love being involved in the action and with every play. I always look forward to opportunities for me to catch.”
Games of the Week
■ Milford at Oliver Ames, Tuesday 3:45 p.m — Will Milford powerhouse Shannon Smith be able to break the state’s all-time strikeout record? She needs 12 K’s to tie the record of 1,119. The last time these Hockomock foes clashed the Scarlet Hawks won, 7-0, and Smith fanned 14.
■ Beverly vs Danvers at Endicott College, Saturday 12 p.m. — These Northeastern Conference rivals will get a chance to show what they’re made of at the seventh annual Courtney Marie Corning Memorial Tourney. Danvers has only one loss on the season while Beverly is 6-10.Colleen Casey can be reached at email@example.com.