Senior first baseman Megan Stone has secured a handful of records — including school records in home runs and runs batted in — by being dedicated on and off the field.
Editor’s Note: Since this story was published, Megan Stone was selected as Indiana State’s first-ever outright Missouri Valley Conference Softball Player of the Year. The team won four games in three days for the team’s first-ever Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title.
As Megan Stone has made her way through her last softball season at Indiana State University, the senior has been on a continual search for that first great pitch.
Stone has secured a handful of records — including school records in home runs and runs batted in — by fixating on that best opportunity.
“I’m looking to hit people in,” Stone said. “One of my focuses is getting the first great pitch. If I see a really good first strike, I’m going to go after it. When you face really good pitching, you may only get one really good pitch.”
If Stone never sees that pitch, she switches to a more patient approach and relies on her teammates to take over.
“It’s about being disciplined and just taking advantage of getting that chance,” she said. “Also, you are getting on base 100 percent of the time that you walk. Our team has improved so much. I know I have hitters behind me backing me up. It puts my mind at ease.”
When she was a freshman, Stone was a slap hitter at the top of the lineup who wanted to see a strike go by in the effort to work the count and get on base. She finished that freshman season with two home runs and 16 RBIs on a squad that won 19 games.
As the Sycamores’ win total grew to 27 last year, Stone saw her role change. Head coach Shane Bouman opted to send Stone down in the order to the third spot or cleanup to make her a middle of the lineup threat.
“I hit away in high school, so I was kind of used to it, but I thought you have to just find a way to get on base,” Stone said. “Sometimes, your role changes. Once you change your role, things just start happening.”
Stone also saw her role as a defender change. She played shortstop in high school before becoming primarily a first baseman for the Sycamores. She went from thinking about coverages of bases during steal attempts, force plays and sacrifice situations to being a corner infielder.
“It was a different atmosphere (at first base),” Stone said. “Scooping the ball or how you place yourself on the base is huge if you are a step away from getting a person out.”
Stone was happy to find out that one part of the game at first base was the same. She could still talk frequently. “I relay a lot (of information),” Stone said. “I didn’t realize that. I thought the shortstop was the main talker on the field. It was crazy, unique and exciting to know that I still got to talk a lot at first base.”
Besides her ability to communicate, Bouman said Stone’s versatility and athleticism help her and the squad out a great deal at first base.
“In high school, a lot of kids are shortstops or centerfielders, and they are the best athletes on their team,” he said. “Megan has been a mainstay for three years for us. You need a great first baseman, because they have to catch a lot of balls.”
Before she found a home at first base, Stone, who was born in Florida but moved with her family to Indiana at the age of 2, had to find a home to pursue her education. Stone’s decision to come to ISU was set in stone pretty early.
“When I first came here, this was my only college visit, and I knew it was the right size and had the major I wanted,” said Stone. “I am a huge family person, and I was also able to see them here.”
Stone’s travels with the team that has seen the Sycamores face opponents such as the University of Tennessee and Arizona State University have enabled her to enjoy a hobby that she picked up during college: running.
“I wasn’t a big runner when I first got here,” Stone said. “It’s a stress reliever. In Arizona, it was perfect one morning — 60 degrees — so we did something nice and light (running) to get us ready for the game.”
Stone, who majors in exercise science, has taken some steps to help other athletes fulfill their on-field potential. She has served an internship at Union Hospital in Fitness and Sports Performance departments. Stone has also been part of putting together speed and agility programs for softball programs. The formula for setting school records and helping other athletes is short but complicated.
“Megan is a pretty driven individual,” Bouman said. “Not everybody wants to put in the work … they want magic to happen.”
Bouman also cited the positive comments he hears from umpires, opposing coaches and fans as a good indicator of Stone’s commitment to the sport and representing Indiana State well. There has always been a number that has been more important than a new school record.
“It’s more important to Megan for our team to go 1-0 (in a game) than to hit home runs,” he said.