Makenna Segal has the numbers etched in her mind, just in case.
Her junior softball season at South was one with stats seemingly straight out of a video game: She hit .585 with 27 RBIs and seven home runs. But the stats that she keeps in her brain relate to her ridiculous on-base percentage of .722, which raised plenty of questions about just how many times she was given free passes to first.
“I've had a lot of people ask me,” Segal said.
Segal drew 43 walks in 2019, with 27 of them being intentional. In the best-of-three Region 5-7A championship series against North Forsyth, the Raiders didn’t give Segal a single chance to beat them herself. She was walked all eight times she came to the plate, and while it was a sign of respect, she understandably wanted to have a chance to show her worth.
“I think about the fifth time, I got to first base and I looked at my coach and I was like, ‘I just want to hit,’” Segal said with a laugh. “We were joking in the dugout and all my teammates were like, ‘You don't even need a bat. Don't even bring one up to the plate,’ or ‘Go stand in the left-handed batter's box, it's not going to matter.’ It became kind of an ongoing joke.”
But even if she didn’t always get to swing the bat, Segal made a gigantic impact on South’s young softball team, leading South to the doorstep of the region title. Her junior season with the War Eagles was far from an easy one, though.
Segal’s softball season is almost never-ending. Including the time she spends playing travel ball, she plays the game 10 months out of the year, with December and January being the only months she has to fully rest. As her high school season approached, her body began to reach its limit.
“Eventually, we had one practice where we were scrimmaging and (my arm) hurt so bad that I had to go see our trainer,” Segal said. “It just so happened that they had a specialist there that day. He looked at my arm and said, ‘You have tendinitis. You need to take time off or you're going to tear something.’
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“It's one of those things where (you think), ‘It couldn't happen to me,’ and when it did, it kind of took me by surprise and just kind of made me realize that I do put a lot of strain on my arm and I do need to take care of it.”
In addition to the tendinitis in her bicep, she also had an inflamed rotator cuff, and she was moved to first base instead of her primary spot at third after taking some time off the field to rest. She’s played both positions in the past, and while manning first was a different experience, she was confident enough in the playmakers around her to be comfortable there.
“I do prefer third, but I think with Emme Souter, knowing that she's strong enough to hold down third base, (it's) a little more relaxing and calming to be able to almost give up that spot knowing what was best for the team,” Segal said. “Overall, I wouldn't say the change was too bad.”
While Segal was placed on first a lot, there were still times where she was able to make a direct impact.
Against Forsyth Central on Sept. 19, she hit a critical go-ahead two-run home run off close friend Bailey McCachren, which was ultimately the difference in a 3-2 win that clinched the War Eagles’ chance at a region championship.
“It definitely wasn't what I was expecting since I know her so well,” Segal said. “When it happened, it was kind of a feeling of relief, like, 'Yes! I'm getting pitched to!' I think it worked out for the best in our favor.”
Segal hasn’t been extended a college offer yet, but while her recruiting process is coming along slower than she’d like, she still has one more year at South, and with a young and promising team around her, she can’t wait for her last ride there.
“I am so excited,” Segal said. “Words cannot even describe it. It's just going to be a fun experience. High school ball is a blast.”