CLINTON — Injuries can scare away potential suitors when they happen to high school athletes. When other schools shied away from Sara Judge, Lakeland College stayed in pursuit, and that helped the Wisconsin school land the softball player from Clinton.
Judge, an outfielder for the Midwest Sluggers 18-under ASA team, will continue her career at Lakeland in the fall, whether she can play the sport she loves or not because of a recurring shoulder injury.
“They had a family atmosphere,” Judge said of selling points of the school in Plymouth, Wis., about an hour from both Milwaukee and Green Bay. “When I went up for a visit, basically all of the athletic staff stopped and talked to me and my mom. They truly showed they cared and they wanted me, and that’s what I wanted.”
Judge said Lakeland, an NCAA Division III school that went 14-22 last season, discovered her during an ASA tournament in Elgin, Ill.
Being seen by more colleges was one reason she has focused on ASA softball rather than the high school level.
“I have had a great experience with both high school and ASA,” she said. “The MAC Conference is one of the toughest in the state. There are great athletes in ASA ball, and you get to go all over, so there’s more exposure than in high school. (Former Clinton High coach) Trina Cewe to this days says she would do anything for me. It was a great experience having her as coach.”
Judge earned honorable mention All-Mississippi Athletic Conference recognition as a sophomore for Clinton High when she batted .436 with one home run, 19 runs batted in and nine stolen bases. But a shoulder injury cost her most of her junior season — she played in just five games, going 6-for-13 with one home run and seven RBIs.