Ernst finds her balance with St. Francis

May 27, 1999|By DAN SPEARS

CLEAR SPRING - On a day when Clear Spring softball player Suzy Ernst could have dominated the conversation with musings and tales of the sport of her choice, she didn't.

Yes, softball was certainly part of the discussion on Tuesday when she announced that she would be swinging bats and fielding ground balls for St. Francis (Pa.) College next spring. So were volleyball, little kids, biology and her friends.

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But, the senior shortstop pointed out, they were all instrumental in her decision to play for the Division I Red Flash.

"I never expected it to turn out as great as it has," Ernst said. "Everything seems to work out in the end if you have your priorities straight."


Ernst's priorities haven't just been straight since making the varsity squad in 1997, they've been been like one of her frozen-rope throws to first base. Especially during her final season, when the Blazers were extremely young and looking to Ernst and her senior teammates more than normal.

"(We) just tried to be an example to them," Ernst said, nodding to her teammates at the back of the room. "We went out to dinner together ... just made them not only our teammates, but our close friends as well."

Good intentions aside, coach Drew Michael wasn't quite sure it would work. Ernst proved him wrong.

"Early on, I sat down with (the seniors) and said, 'You know, this could be a long year,'" Michael said. "But she said, 'No, it won't be that bad. We'll be in the top 10 some time this year. Don't worry about that.' And for a couple weeks, we were."

With that kind of confidence, everyone knew Ernst would fit in just fine with the Red Flash.

"She'll be a big asset," St. Francis coach Christy Cameron said in a statement. "What impressed me about Suzy was her great attitude, work ethic and athleticism. She is a great kid who is going to be very successful both academically and athletically at Saint Francis College."

And that's the most important thing for the career .432 hitter heading to Loretto, Pa., this fall. Her pursuit of biology and secondary education degrees is virtually paid for in full, thanks to a prestigious Presidential Scholarship and her athletics grants.

"With athletics, there's only so far you can go," Ernst said. "In softball, it's the Olympics, and only an elite few can make it there. With academics, that'll be there for the rest of your life.

"You can always have those pick-up games at the park with softball, but you get your job with your academics."

But for the next four years, Ernst will have a couple jobs: softball player and student. She'll take both seriously.

"There's so many things to learn and so many directions you can go in," Ernst said. "It'll be tough, but it'll be good for me."

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