By Kyle LoJacono
Meghan Sfraga and Joelle Stewart made big contributions to Land O’ Lakes athletics the last four years, and the duo capped off their time in blue and gold by signing letters of intent May 21.
Sfraga will continue playing softball at Georgian Court University, a Division II program in New Jersey, while Stewart will attend Webber International University, an NAIA school in Babson Park, on a soccer scholarship.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Stewart, who will play defense while studying corporate communications. “In our locker room we have a wall with the picture of all the girls who have gone on to play in college. When I was a freshman I’d look at that wall and think I’d want my picture on it.”
Stewart’s dream seemed unlikely a few months ago. She had decided to attend Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, a Division I program that didn’t show much interest in her.
Stewart said she usually does not change her mind on big decisions, but something about Webber called her name.
“I decided what the heck,” Stewart said. “I went and I really liked the coach and the team. … I’m really happy with my decision. Everything happens for a reason, and me changing my plans is one of those things.”
Stewart played every position for the Gators except goalkeeper. Her work on the backline helped the squad go 14-7-3 while allowing only 20 goals last season, including 13 shutouts. The 2011-12 squad also won its first district title in eight seasons, the same year Stewart was in fifth grade.
Sfraga, who will study exercise science, also got playing time as a freshman. In fact, she was the only ninth-grader on varsity in 2009. She became a catcher in seventh grade, a position she said suits her well.
“You have to be crazy to play there, and I’m a crazy person,” Sfraga said with a laugh.
The newly signed Sfraga said softball has helped her develop off the field.
“Each year I tried to be more of a leader,” Sfraga said. “I loved the game and the girls on the team. It’s been such a positive thing for me.”
Sfraga also thought college ball wasn’t in her future until she stood out at a showcase tournament in New Jersey in November.
“It’s always been a dream of mine, so to have this accomplished it’s another stress off of me,” Sfraga said.
Land O’ Lakes went 7-15 last season. Sfraga led the Gators with a .457 on-base percentage, .534 slugging percentage, 21 runs, 13 RBI and six doubles. She also batted .345 as a senior.
–Stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches.