Michigan left-hander Meghan Beaubien is one of the finest softball pitchers in the country. She’s also an intense student, majoring in biomedical engineering.
But perhaps most important, she’s a die-hard Star Wars fan.
With the “Rise of Skywalker” officially released on Friday, it seemed fitting to discuss the final installment of the saga with an avowed Star Wars “nerd” like Beaubien. She even shared what character she believes most resembles legendary Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins.
“I’m really curious to see how they wrap everything up,” Beaubien said Thursday. “Wrapping up Star Wars, the whole Skywalker saga is a really, really big thing to do in a movie. I hope nobody dies. Actually, I wouldn’t mind if some people die, but nobody I like.”
She became hooked on Star Wars in first grade, thanks to her father, Jason, who introduced her to the movies that began with “A New Hope” released in 1977, 22 years before she was born. There was a three-year stretch starting around third grade when she dressed up as a Star Wars character for Halloween, mainly so she could carry a lightsaber.
Now, as a college student heading into her junior season of softball — she was the 2018 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and led the nation with 33 wins and was first-team All Big Ten last year with a 1.87 ERA — she proudly wears a favorite holiday Star Wars T-shirt around Christmas and has a unique Star Wars sticker on her laptop that plays off the movie's famous “May the Force be with you” line.
“I’m engineering student, so it’s like a nerdy physics joke — “May the Mass x Acceleration be with you” because in the second law (of motion) that’s force,” Beaubien said. “Physics humor and Star Wars humor rolled into one sticker.”
Everyone refers to her as a “nerd” because of her Star Wars fandom.
“All the time,” she said, laughing. “Teammates, coaches. I’m like a double nerd, because I’m a school nerd and a Star Wars nerd and wear Star Wars T-shirts. I have a T-shirt that’s the Star Wars periodic table, so I kind of bring it upon myself.”
Like many Star Wars fans/nerds, Beaubien is curious to find out the parents reveal for Rey — she hopes Rey is related to her favorite character, Obi Wan — and believes Kylo Ren will be redeemed, although she’s not his biggest fan.
“He is a whiner,” she said. “He’s the whiniest Sith Lord by far of the Star Wars saga. Was Darth Vader this whiny? Absolutely not. You’re telling me Darth Maul, Count Dooku, like any of these people were throwing temper tantrums?”
Beaubien is a student of Star Wars, but she needed a few moments to consider which character best represents her coach. Hutchins is in her 36th year at Michigan, is the winningest NCAA softball coach and in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“Trying to pick someone who is wise," Beaubien said, thinking. "She’s not Yoda. She’s not calm enough to be Yoda. Maybe she’s like Mace Windu because she’s wise and is a strong leader.
"Mace Windu is also pretty ... blunt. That’s who I was going to go with. I feel like all the Jedi are like, ‘We follow our Jedi code’ and I feel like Hutch follows her own rules. And I don't mean that in a negative way."
Of course not. After all, the Force is strong with this one.