Alex Sobczak has struck out just five times in 226 plate appearances the last two years at Mercy. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Alex Sobczak knows what Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera faces as a feared slugger.
Sobczak, who plays softball for Farmington Hills Mercy, is so respected as a hitter that she rarely sees a good pitch, and takes walks in bunches.
That happens when you hit 17 home runs as a sophomore, as Sobczak did last season with Mercy.
“She’s an aggressive hitter, very strong and athletic,” said Mercy coach Sara McGavin of Sobczak, a 5-foot-7 junior third baseman. “She’s a natural hitter, great mechanics, and she works so hard at it.
“She’s no longer getting much opportunities and it has to raise the frustration level to get walked all the time. She has a great eye at the plate and she’s very focused up there.”
Sobczak has struck out just five times in 226 plate appearances the last two years.
In two Division 1 district games last weekend, Sobczak was 4-for-6 with three intentional walks and seven runs as Mercy earned the championship. She was walked five times in the Catholic League championship game win against Livonia Ladywood.
Sobczak is hitting .622 with nine home runs, 34 RBI and a 1.216 slugging percentage. She has walked 35 times, 19 intentionally.
“I don’t see myself being any different than any other player,” said Sobczak, who has a 3.98 grade-point average. “I just go out and do my job to try to help my team win.
“I felt I had a good year last season -- hit some out so teams know what I can do. I hit home runs my first two at-bats against Ladywood earlier this season, then got walked the next seven times during the doubleheader. I’m learning to take pitches, not to be so eager, and when I do see a good pitch, then drive it.”
Sobczak developed her skills playing travel softball each summer since age 9. After reaching high school, she began lifting weights during the winter, also getting as many swings in as possible in the batting cage to prepare her for the season.
Warren Regina’s legendary coach Diane Laffey said Sobczak is as good as any player in the state. Laffey has coached 43 years and owns more than 1,100 victories.
Laffey said her pitchers have pitched to Sobczak during the regular season – the teams played five times with Mercy winning four – but she wouldn’t if Regina faced her during the state tournament.
Sobczak has helped make Mercy (25-3) a legitimate threat to win the state championship. Mercy plays Walled Lake Central in a noon regional semifinal Saturday at Novi.
“She can flat out hit,” said Laffey of Sobczak, who has 34 career homers, 15 shy of the state record. “She knows the game well and makes people better around her. If Hutch (Michigan coach Carol Hutchins) wants her, you know she’s good. She’s a very good defensive player too.”
Sobczak will receive a 75-percent scholarship to play at Michigan.
“It’s a great atmosphere, Coach (Hutchins) does a great job of developing players, and when they offered me I couldn’t say yes fast enough since it’s my dream school,” said Sobczak. “It’s like a family there and I know they will help me become the person I want to be.”