In a county with some legit softball ‘studs’, Newark Academy senior Lisa Swenson might be taking that saying to another level.
You see, Swenson will be attending Southern Methodist University this fall, where that school’s moniker is “The Mustangs”.
Lisa Swenson will attend college at SMU this fall and be a Mustang.
In the meantime, Swenson’s stud-like play in her closing high school days have been a key reason why the Minutemen are 16-4 heading into the Essex County Tournament (ECT) quarterfinals on Saturday at Mount St. Dominic.
“We have a saying this season that is ‘One More Game’,” Swenson said, referring to her team falling a game short in last year’s ECT in the semifinal round, ironically to Mount St. Dominic. “We get another chance to play Mount St. Dominic on Saturday and we know we’ll have to play well to win. But right now, we’re coming together.”
Swenson achieved a personal milestone on May 3, at Montclair Kimberley Academy, collecting her 100th career hit as Newark Academy won, 12-2.
“I knew I had 99 when I came up to the plate in that game,” Swenson said. “Yes, it meant something special, I can’t deny it. And doing it against MKA was nice, because they’re such a big rival of ours. I have the ball, too. It’s at home.”
Lisa Swenson gets ready to take a swing during recent game. (Photos are courtesy of Sergio Rodriguez).
Swenson is the third Newark Academy player during coach Sergio Rodriguez’s tenure to reach 100. Adrienne White, a 2011 graduate is the school’s all-time leading hits leader with 163. Danielle Seltzer also reached 100 hits in 2010.
“She’s a tremendous player,” Rodriguez said of Swenson. “She’s so focused on what she’s doing out there and is a big reason why we’re playing so well.”
Head coach Sergio Rodriguez provides instruction to Swenson during a league game.
Newark Academy has won 14 straight since a 9-7 loss to Bloomfield on April 10. It is hoping for a trifecta of its own by winning a Super Essex Conference Liberty Division championship, as well as a county and Prep title. A fourth crown could come with a state sectional title.
“In 17 years of coaching, I end every practice with asking if anyone is hurt, or banged up,” Rodriguez said. “And for 4,062 straight times, the answer was no. But last week, I asked, and five hands went up. And the message was ‘coach, we’re a little worn out.’ It’s a grind here, because the academic requirements at Newark Academy are really tough and then there’s playing a varsity sport. We gave them a little time off and I think it will help.”
“We’re taking exams and there’s a lot of homework in general here,” Swenson said. “It’s a great academic environment and we appreciate that. But sometimes it wears you out. But when it comes to this Saturday, we’ll be ready. Once we’re on that field, we’re fired up.”
SMU doesn’t have a softball program, so Swenson knows these waning weeks will be memorable.
“We have our goals,” she said with a smile. “We’re having a good season and we learned last year what we’re capable of. It should be fun.”