DOVER — If things had worked out differently, Monica Joseph could have have played for a state champion softball team this spring.
Instead, the talented catcher ended up on a squad that went just 3-14.
But Joseph, who recently graduated from Dover High after transferring from Polytech, said she doesn’t spend time wondering ‘What if?’
“I wouldn’t have wanted it any different,” she said. “I’m not upset about it. Like if I could see the future before I left, I still would have gone to Dover High.”
Certainly playing for the Senators this season didn’t keep anyone from recognizing Joseph’s ability, either.
Having already signed with Division I Appalachian State, Joseph earned first-team at-large All-State honors after batting .405 as a senior. And tonight she’ll take the field with the top seniors in the state in the Blue-Gold All-Star Softball Game.
The contest is slated for 6 p.m. at Dover Little League Park.
Joseph was eligible to play despite transferring as a senior because Dover offered different courses that she needed. Obviously, Senator coach Gerald Jester was thrilled to have a veteran catcher land on his doorstep.
Joseph was the Panthers’ starting catcher in her junior year.
“She definitely made our season a little more exciting,” said Jester. “To be honest, I didn’t even know Monica until I heard we were getting a transfer from Poly. Then I started looking into it to find out what I was getting. Of course, once I started checking into it, yes, there was definitely some excitement.”
Joseph made a big difference offensively for Dover. She hit six homeruns and had 18 RBI for a squad that scored only 65 runs all season. She also struck out just once.
Despite coming from a much more successful program, Jester said Joseph always had a positive attitude.
“She fit right in,” he said. “The girls accepted her. She was a good example to have around, too, because Dover High needs to see that kind of ballplayer and what they’ve done to get to that level.
“She kept pushing them to get better. You really couldn’t tell whether we were winning or losing by Monica’s attitude. She was a good player and a good teammate.”
“It wasn’t that hard,” said Joseph. “The girls at Dover are great. Even though our record doesn’t ultimately show all the hard work that we put in at practice day-in and day-out, we didn’t give up. Despite our record, it was a really positive atmosphere and I really enjoyed it,”
In the summer, Joseph plays for the NC Lady Lightning, a North Carolina-based travel team. Last year she hit .429, had an on-base percentage of .495 and struck out only four times in 82 at-bats.
At Appalachian State she’ll play for former Delaware State coach Janice Savage. That makes sense since Janice’s father, Jeff, was her first hitting instructor when Joseph was younger.
She expected to contend for the Mountaineers’ starting catcher spot right away.
“We look for her to make an immediate offensive impact in the middle of our lineup,” Janice Savage said when Joseph signed.
Joseph plans to major in biology with the hopes of going into zoology some day.
Even though she was only with the Senators for one season, Jester said he expects Joseph’s influence to be felt for a couple more years. He said she really helped Dover’s younger players.
“She gave us that leadership,” said Jester. “She was a big help to my freshman pitcher (Katie Dunlap). I told her and the pitcher, what she (Joseph) helped her with this year ... will really pay off in the future. It’s hard to see the results this year but, in the future, I think we’ll see it.”
“I was really proud of her (Dunlap) this season,” said Joseph. “A lot of our players are sophomores. I feel like as long as everyone works hard, they do have a brighter future than they’ve had in the past. After catching her (Dunlap) all season, I know she has a lot of potential.”
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.