SAUGATUCK — Emma Walker can’t lie: she loves the Saugatuck softball seniors.
“I really love my seniors, I’m not going to lie,” Walker said. “I love them so much. They made softball fun for me. I already loved the sport so much, but they took it to a whole other level because I played with them basically my entire life through rec, middle school, travel — I’ve always played with those seniors and always been good friends with them. I’ve taken so much from them.
“Just seeing that opportunity get taken away from them so fast opened my eyes — that could happen to me just with anything.”
Walker would have been the lone junior on the Saugatuck softball team this year, but won’t see that year realized due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
She said it’s been weird not playing softball this year.
“Normally around this time of year, I’m a super busybody, and for me to be locked inside with my family — it’s hard to go from being so active to literally just doing nothing and being stuck inside,” Walker said. “I still get outside and do stuff with my sister. I workout everyday, I hit — I just keep trying to stay active so I stay in shape for this upcoming travel season.”
Walker said she has class everyday from 10 a.m. to noon, in addition to two or three hours of homework each night, and has also been sending emails out to colleges.
She was hoping to show colleges what she could do this year.
“This year, I was aiming to do some damage, do my best and go all out to put up some big numbers,” Walker said. “Those big numbers would have helped with getting into college softball.”
If last season is any indication, Walker would have had a lot to say out on the softball field — Walker sported a .423 batting average, a .571 on-base percentage, seven stolen bases and was named all-conference while playing multiple positions for the Indians.
While she plays outfield during the travel season, Walker plays wherever the Indians need her, and was even planning on doing some pitching this year.
She said travel ball prepared her for handling multiple responsibilities.
“Travel ball mentally prepared me for, ‘If I play here, this is what happens,’ or paying attention when other people are in line and see what they’re doing, so I can carry that over to my high school season if I ever have to play that position,” Walker said.
Saugatuck coach Wayne Lubben said a lot of Walker’s talent was natural.
“As we began to prepare for the upcoming softball season, we felt that we had a chance to have great year,” Lubben said. “Emma was going to be a huge part of that. Emma brings a ton of talent to the softball field. She excels at all aspects of the game. The thing that sets her apart from most players is the energy level she plays at. She is high energy, and as a coach, that is one of those intangibles that you so much appreciate because it cannot be coached.”
With the absence of the 2020 season, Walker said she and her teammates have been keeping in touch.
“I had a friend from softball check up on me just to see how I was doing because she knows I’m such an active person and I checked on her too,” Walker said. “It was just a quick little conversation to make sure we were both doing okay.”
And she’s been checking in on the seniors.
“I’m close with a bunch of the seniors since I’m the only junior on the team,” Walker said. “It’s kind of sad for me to think I’ll never get the chance to play with them again, and sad for them because they’ll never get to play again — this was the No. 1 sport they loved and they’ll never get to play it again.
“That’s just sad for me to think about.”
Walker said the seniors made softball much more fun over the years for her and her teammates. She wants to do that as a senior next year.
“That’s what I’m going to do,” Walker said. “I’m going to take over what they started and just try to carry it on, try to pass on some of my values into that as well to what they’ve already started,” Walker said.
— Contact Assistant Sports Editor Beau Troutman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BVTroutman.