College softball programs interested in Kaneland’s Lauren Zick would do their typical homework on the speedy center fielder, and an obvious question would eventually arise: Why didn’t you play high school softball?
Zick is a marquee athlete in Kaneland’s girls track and field program, which conflicts with high school softball in the spring.
Her answer was relatively straightforward. She loves track and field, and thought the speed and explosion she gained through her track workouts transfer over to softball, anyway.
Zick considered pursuing track in college until about midway through high school, when she decided softball would present her with the best opportunities. On Monday, the Kaneland senior committed to play Division-I softball at St. John’s University in New York.
The Sugar Grove resident is a three-time state qualifier in track and field at Kaneland, where she specializes in the long jump, the 400-meter run and sprint relays.
“I have a great relationship with everyone on the track team and they’ve done so much for me,” Zick said. “I’ve really had a good time and I’ve enjoyed it a lot, I really do. It’s hard to have to pick one sport for college but unfortunately it had to be done eventually.”
Despite forgoing high school softball, Zick still has had plenty of game experience in the sport. She’s played travel softball in various programs for years, most recently this summer with the New Lenox Lightning.
Zick, a left-handed hitting slapper, bats leadoff for the Lightning. She said St. John’s embraces the aggressive style of base running she enjoys.
“Obviously with my speed, running bases is a big part of my game so they encouraged that and teach that there,” said Zick, who also played basketball her first two years at Kaneland. “That was probably one of the biggest things I liked about them.”
In addition to St. John’s, Zick said she considered Illinois, Northern Illinois and Indiana State.
Relocating from Sugar Grove to Queens in New York City next year will provide a drastic change of scenery for Zick, who came away looking forward to “starting a new life out in New York” after a recent trip to campus.
“When I went out and visited, I saw completely different cultures, different types of ethnicities I’ve never seen before. I heard tons of different languages – it was really cool, actually,” Zick said. “I really enjoyed it because I’m a really outgoing person. I love experiencing new things.”
• Jay Schwab is a Shaw Media sports editor. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.