(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
When St. Bonaventure shortstop Emily McDonough recorded a .330 batting average her freshman year, it didn’t take a sabermetrics wiz like Bill James to predict her future success.
On Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, the Marlboro, N.Y. native cemented her place in school history. With two hits in the second half of a doubleheader at La Salle, she became Bona’s all-time hits leader with 180, passing 1999 graduate Jen Bovee’s mark of 178.
“It is an honor and very humbling to be placed amongst some amazing softball players who have played before me here,” McDonough said.
An all-time record requires consistency, and the senior has been a constant in the Bona lineup since she got to campus.
McDonough’s career batting average currently stands at .374, and she has recorded at least 30 hits each season. Her 24 multi-hit games the past two seasons trail only Kelli Rohan’s 26. Her 490 at bats are seven shy of 2003 graduate Tricia Hildebrand’s career at bats record.
“Consistency is a major reason why this record was reachable for me,” McDonough said. “It’s difficult to remain consistent in softball, especially over a four-year span. My competitive edge, metal toughness and hard work have helped me along the way.
“However, I couldn’t have done it without all of my teammates over the past (four) years who have pushed me to be the best I can be.”
A portion of the sports studies major’s consistency can be credited to her ability as a slap hitter. Slap hitters, who tend to be slotted in the leadoff spot where she resides, step into their run to first base before they make contact with the ball. By running through, they get out of the box faster, lessening their time to first base and raising their chances of getting on base.
McDonough started slap-hitting on her 12-and-under travel team, the Dutchess Debs. There, she would primarily bunt from the left side and swing right-handed in RBI or two-strike situations. Throughout high school, she stayed slapping from the left side to make improvements and adjustments, and she was recruited to Bonaventure as a slap-hitter.
“As I got older I started to hit the ball harder from the left side while also strengthening my bunting skills,” she said. “I feel it is an asset for me because as a contact hitter it allows me to use my running speed more effectively while also being able to drive the ball.”
A common denominator between the top 15 hits leaders in Bona history is that each player was coached by Mike Threehouse, who is in his 19th season at the helm. Threehouse remarked that breaking any record held by Bovee, who is in the school’s athletic hall of fame, is a “big deal.”
“It was fun to watch and an honor to coach (McDonough),” Threehouse said. “She is a talented player, with the work ethic and mental makeup to go with it.
“She is a leader by example. Her attitude was always (that) she would go out and play her best, and she just expected everyone should do the same. That is the way it should be. Everyone needs to hold themselves accountable, and Emily held herself accountable to her skill set.
“She never expected anything but the best out of herself.”
There’s no doubt that McDonough is one of the best to ever play on the SBU diamond. With single-season records for at bats and stolen bases and career records for hits and stolen bases, and the career at bats mark imminent, her impact will be felt for years to come.