Last Updated: August 26, 2016
2014 East Suburban Conference Champs
Benet Grad Maeve McGuire helps Georgia reach Women's College World Series
Georgia junior Maeve McGuire won't soon forget the moment.
McGuire, a Benet graduate, was on first base when pinch-hitter Kaylee Puailoa stepped up with two outs in the seventh inning of Friday's Super Regional against No. 1 Florida. Puailoa swung and hit a home run — and the Bulldogs were on their way to the Women's College World Series in dramatic fashion. Driving for ice cream a day later, McGuire was still basking in the delicious memory.
I watched it go over the fence and I said to myself, 'Oh my gosh we are actually going,'" said McGuire, a two-time Naperville Sun Softball Player of the Year. "It didn't feel like it was really happening."
Georgia, making its third WCWS appearance and first since 2010, plays its first game in Oklahoma City at 11 a.m. Thursday against Florida State. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. That McGuire and the Bulldogs (45-18) made it was stunning. Florida was the two-time defending national champion and ranked No. 1 for all but one week this season.
McGuire, a lefty designated hitter/catcher, was 3-for-3 with two RBIs in Game 1 of the best-of-three Super Regional. Her single set up Puailoa's heroics
She's going to the WCWS five years after leading Benet to a third-place state finish in Class 4A. "It's crazy to think that we knocked off the No. 1 team, but we played well all weekend," McGuire said. "It was a reassurance that we can play with the best."
McGuire has never lacked for confidence. It's easy to see why. As a senior at Benet, she hit .516 with nine homers and 51 RBIs. Her 26 doubles as a sophomore were one off the state record, and her 69 career doubles ranks as the fifth most in IHSA history. The middle of three softball-playing sisters, Maeve and older sister Nora led Benet in 2011 to its only state finals appearance. "That's what stands out, was doing it with my older sister," McGuire said.
In McGuire's freshman year, Georgia won the SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs lost to Michigan in last season's Super Regional. "The game in college, it's just so much faster," said McGuire, a criminal justice major. "I didn't realize how fast college softball was. I was not ready for it when I got here."
Now a fixture in Georgia's lineup, McGuire has found her power stroke. She hit five homers combined over her first two seasons at Georgia. This season, though, McGuire has hit eight to go with a .337 average, 12 doubles and 34 RBIs in starting all 63 games for the Bulldogs.
Her secret? Not thinking about it. "Rather than trying to swing out of my shoes, I'm just going up there relaxed," McGuire said. "I haven't tried to worry about hitting for power. I'm just having quality at-bats, not trying to do too much." McGuire can thank some interesting training methods. During preseason, McGuire and the Bulldogs wore goggles — "they look like horse blinders" — in the batter's box to help focus on nothing but the pitcher. "It blocks everything else out, really makes you focus and it takes everything in the peripheral out," McGuire said. "When you take them off it makes a world of difference."
Joshua Welge is a freelance writer for the Naperville Sun.