March 28, 2008

Senior Hurler Excited for Last Hurrah

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Nearly four years ago senior Jenn Meunier arrived in Ithaca from Turpin High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she had been named to the All-State softball team. Three-plus seasons and 62 wins later, Meunier is set for her final year pitching in the red and white.
“I honestly don’t remember what I expected [before I came to Cornell],” Meunier said. “I just came planning on working hard and doing whatever job they gave me.”
Meunier didn’t waste any time getting acclimated to the college calibre, and as a rookie her job description became “ace.” Her freshman year, Meunier led the Red in innings pitched with 141, playing both as one of the team’s two primary starters and also as a reliever. At 17-4, Meunier had the majority of the Red’s 29 wins while totaling a 2.38 ERA, yet another team best.
“I can’t say that we really did [expect her to get out to such a fast start],” said head coach Dick Blood. “She was a dropball pitcher, but she was a power pitcher even as a freshman. In her very first fall contest she pitched very well against Syracuse and we thought that maybe she was more advanced than we had hoped.”
The Red’s leader in wins each of the past three seasons learned quickly, throwing two no-hitters her freshman year while winning her final nine starts. In her sophomore season, Meunier picked up where she left off in 2005, leading the Ivy League with 17 wins while posting a stingy 2.08 ERA. Despite putting up big numbers right from the start of her career, Meunier has continued to see improvement in her game.
“It’s definitely a huge learning experience coming into college softball,” Meunier said. “It’s a whole different game than high school and travel ball, and there’s a whole learning experience that goes along with that — learning how to actually pitch instead of just throw, because there is a big difference between the two.”
Meunier came to Cornell
as a dropball-power pitcher with an overpowering fastball but little to complement it. Over the past seasons, though, Meunier has significantly developed her arsenal, adding a curveball and working on her changeup.

“She’s improved dramatically — she was pretty much just a fastball pitcher with a decent changeup, but the changeup was pretty slow,” Blood said. “A lot of kids could read it and hit it. Now she’s added velocity to her changeup and her curveball, which was nonexistent, and is now a pretty good pitch for her.”

After going 19-7 with 146 strikeouts in 176 innings as a junior, Meunier has compiled a 9-1 record to begin her final campaign with the Red. Even more impressive, however, is her ERA of 0.77 through 63.2 innings.

“More of the same, more of the same,” Blood said when asked what he hoped for Meunier this season. “Hopefully she continues to travel the same successful route she’s paved. We’ll need her leadership on the mound.”