Teamwork and bonding are keys to breakout season for Maeve McGuire and Georgia Softball
The Georgia Bulldogs have quickly become one of the true favorites in women's softball, posting a 46-20 record this season, with a favorable 23-8 mark at home.
They earned one of the top seeds in the World Series race and even knocked off the top seeded Florida Gators in the process. One of the biggest reasons for that surge is junior utility player Maeve McGuire.
McGuire originates from Downers Grove and went to high school at Benet Academy. She's a four-year letter winner there, and her accolades read like a lengthy novel. McGuire had her breakout season at Benet in 2011, earning a First Team NFCA All-American bid, as well as Chicago Sun Times Player of the Year. She was just one double shy of setting the all-time Illinois state record for most doubles by one player. She also played travel ball with one of the top travel teams in the country, the Beverly Bandits. The three-time All-Conference team member says her time at Benet prepared her for Georgia not only athletically, but academically.
"High school instilled in me that hard work and determination," McGuire told the DuPage Policy Journal. "Benet Academy was very academically rigorous, and balancing that with softball really prepared me for University of Georgia."
That balance was showcased right away in her rookie season in 2014. She appeared in 38 games, and blasted three doubles in her first college contest. That freshmen campaign saw McGuire notch a .275 batting average, with four home runs and 23 RBIs. She upped that percentage to .333 in her sophomore year, hitting seven more doubles and cracking a home run in NCAA Regional action. She pointed to her selflessness and her energy as her biggest strengths as a teammate.
McGuire's breakout season came this past year as a junior.
"This season, as a team we really worked on becoming a close-knit family," she said when asked about the reason for her skyrocketing numbers. "That connection between my sisters helped me pull for every one of them, like they would do for me."
That bonding and communication really showed on the field, as she started all 66 games this season. Maeve put up a .326 batting average with 63 hits and 37 RBIs. She came through in the clutch as well, posting a walk-off RBI against Boston College, and set up a walk-off win against the nation's top-ranked Florida squad. She had an RBI in every game of the College World Series, proving that she was a star in the biggest moments.
McGuire remains humble though, and said her family lineage helps her stay motivated. She has two sisters, one of whom plays softball at Buffalo, and the other will play this year at Georgia Southern.
"My sisters are a great motivation, they push me to be the best I can be," she said. "They know what it takes to be a student athlete. We all started playing softball around the same age, so it was really nice to always have a throwing partner around the house."
McGuire finds strength in her familial ties to the game, though she joked that she'd win a family hitting contest between the three.
The future is bright for McGuire, as well as the Georgia Bulldogs. Even at her height though, she strives to continue to improve as a person and a player.
"I want to leave UGA a better person than I was when I came here," she said. "I want to leave a strong, independent women."
The Bulldogs will be a team to watch next season, with McGuire as one of their leaders.