Freese shines for Monmouth University
05/24/2016 01:37PM ● Published by Steven Hoffman
Jill Freese, a former Oxford Area High School softball star, shined during her senior season playing at the Division 1 level for Monmouth University, belting 14 home runs and consistently delivering big hits as her team made a deep playoff run for the second year in a row.
On the day that she would have been walking in her college graduation ceremony, Freese was instead three hours away, playing alongside her Monmouth teammates in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship round against Marist College. She was fine with missing her graduation ceremony to play in the playoffs. It was an excellent way to cap a very good season.
Freese’s batting average was .315 during her senior season. In addition to the 14 home runs, she hit eight doubles and drove in 47 runs. She also had an impressive on-base percentage of .411 and was a solid defender behind the plate.
Freese said that it would be hard to identify individual moments as highlights—rather, the entire senior season was a memorable one.
“It was a really good season for the team,” Freese said. “That’s what stands out.”
Monmouth University made it all the way to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title game against Marist College. Trailing 2-0 in the sixth inning, Freese hammered a two-run homer to tie the game. Marist College scored the game-winning run in the next inning, but that did nothing to diminish the season that Monmouth University had under first-year head coach Shannon Salsburg.
“We had a new coaching staff that refreshed everything,” Freese said. Before the season started, Salsburg told Freese to relax and have fun for her senior year, and that advice paid dividends as she turned in her best season.
In fact, the excellent senior season was reminiscent of her standout career at Oxford, when Freese was a middle-of-the-order force for the Hornets. She was the captain of the varsity team at Oxford, earning All-League First Team honors and was a team MVP for all four seasons on the squad. During a tremendous junior season, she hit .611 with seven home runs, five triples, five doubles and 25 RBIs. She also played travel softball, which helped prepare her for the higher level of competition in college.
“It was definitely hard to adjust,” Freese explained, “because of the level of competition. As a freshman, it’s really a challenge because you’re usually playing against juniors and seniors—-people with more experience.”
Freese also had to overcome injuries on the long road to the excellent senior season. During her last season at Oxford, she was a designated hitter and did not catch because she underwent surgery on her shoulder for an overuse injury. Then, in October of her freshman year in college, she tore her meniscus and had to undergo surgery again. She worked hard to make it back in time for her freshman season, picking up five hits and five RBIs for the team in limited duty.
By the time her sophomore season rolled around, she was able to catch again. She improved offensively and hit four home runs and also saw a lot of action behind the plate.
In her junior year, Freese belted three home runs and hit over .300 for the first time in her college career.
“I think every year I got a little better,” she explained.
As she became one of the veteran players on the team, Freese also developed into one of the team’s leaders, just as she had at Oxford. Freese said that some of her college teammates took to calling her “mom” because she was the one that they went to when they needed something. She was very comfortable in the role, and could see herself coaching softball to others.
She already works as an instructor for the Delaware County Chaos travel team. She graduated with a degree in health studies and physical education, and now plans to earn a master’s degree in sports management at Wilmington University. She’ll be starting there in the fall. She also applied for a coaching position with the Millersville University softball program.
“Eventually, I would like to be an athletic director in high school or college,” Freese said.