NEW PALESTINE — When the pressure is on, Adie Lorsung feels most at home.
What other kind of player loves to face a full count, sets a season RBI goal of 54 and seamlessly changes positions for a squad with championship aspirations? How does one cope with all that?
By singing to herself.
The New Palestine junior flashes a smile when explaining the self-composing mechanism she uses to keep herself in the moment.
“I used to hum the ‘Right Above it’ (by Lil Wayne) because it was me and my best friend’s song that we used to love listening to,” Lorsung explained. “This year, I would say it was probably my walk-up song, ‘On to the Next One’ by Jay-Z. I always used that mentality if I got a strike, ‘OK, there’s a next pitch.’ I just kept on singing that over and over in my head.”
Lorsung’s sing-alongs produced nothing but sweet harmony at the plate this season, enough to make her the 2014 Hancock County Player of the Year as selected by the Daily Reporter sports staff in consultation with area coaches.
The Dragons’ shortstop led or co-led the county in batting average (.536), doubles (17), RBIs (44) and runs scored (39). Lorsung added seven home runs, an on-base percentage of .582 and a slugging mark of .948 – all while transitioning to a new fielding position after playing right field her first two seasons at NP and first base for Indiana Magic Gold 18U, her travel squad.
Lorsung has been a regular in the red and white’s lineup for Ed Marcum since her freshman campaign, and the veteran coach knew long ago he had a versatile player in Lorsung. But, Marcum found out just how adaptable Lorsung was when he her moved to shortstop prior to this year to fill the spot voided by Erin Lehman, a 2013 senior and county co-player of the year who now suits up for Indiana University.
“You could tell early on she was very talented. She was the type of player that could play anywhere. When a freshman comes in, you’re looking for someone to fill a need. I was looking at Adie for infield as well as outfield positions, and she just fit right in at right field. She did an outstanding job. She was a great hitter and a hard worker,” Marcum said of why Lorsung received major playing time as a ninth-grader. “We talked last year at the end of the season when Erin graduated. Erin had gotten hurt and we moved Adie to shortstop for a few games and she did a great job. I said, ‘You get an opportunity to work on shortstop, that may be a position that’s open where we’re going to be looking for someone.’
“I knew she could handle that because she is such an all-around player. I could put her just about anywhere and she would do a great job.”
Moving to the most important position on the infield, Lorsung fully grasped the gravity of her positional change.
“I have played pretty much everywhere my entire life other than pitcher and catcher. In travel ball, I play first base. It was kind of different moving from the right side of the field to the left side of the field,” she offered. “It was a big change – I knew coming in that I was going to have to work hard and that’s all I kept doing. I worked on my throws to first and got used to having that quick throw. As the year got going and I practiced more and more, I feel like I got better.”
After batting in the latter third of the lineup as a freshman and in the No. 3 hole in 2013, Lorsung earned Marcum’s trust in the cleanup position after performing well during a preseason scrimmage. She responded by increasing her offensive production across the board from her sophomore season – Lorsung scored 15 more runs, increased her average by 141 points, bumped her slugging percentage by 378 points and drove in nearly as many runs as her freshman and sophomore years combined.
Lorsung is the first to admit she had plenty of great hitters all around her in the lineup – NP posted a team batting average and on-base percentages of .401 and .439, respectively.
“It was a good motivator. Every time I got to bat, I was like ‘OK, there’s people on base, I need to score them.’ I always had that mindset and I feel like that helped,” Lorsung said. “Knowing that I had Issy (Hoyt), Markie (Wood) and Brittany (Duncan) in front of me to get on base, I would come up, then whoever was behind me, whether it was Casey (Lehman) or Abby (O’Connor), they could come and hit me in. It was a motivating kind of atmosphere I would say.
“It was a (run-driving in) competition between the middle of the lineup, so me, Issy and Casey. It was a positive competition.”
Lorsung, who recently turned 17, loves to swing at the first pitch of an at-bat – if it’s in her designated strike zone – but also looks forward to full counts.
“I feel like the more pressure I have on myself, the more likely I am to perform,” she said.
Along with Lehman, 2012 senior Audrey East served as Lorsung’s role models with New Palestine before she became a team leader this season – while also targeting East’s total of 54 runs batted in 2012.
“I definitely looked up to Audrey my freshman year with all the RBIs, home runs (eight) and the high batting average (.485) that she had. I told myself this year I wanted to beat her RBI total she had her senior year,” Lorsung recalled. “Every day (this offseason) I would see Audrey working out in the gym and she’s like ‘Oh you’re working?’ and I would say, ‘Yeah, I want to beat you.’ She would just laugh at me. I definitely looked up to Audrey.
“Then Erin, last year, I looked up to her and the constant bat (.500 average) that she had. I took everything I could have learned into consideration and put it into this year.”
While an RBI tends to have an individual stigma as a statistic, Marcum preaches its communal and situational value to his team.
“Adie really got off to a great start; I think that gave her a lot of confidence. The team relied on her. Confidence is a great tool. She worked hard, practices hard and took advantage of the opportunity when she had the players out there,” he said. “I always talk about RBIs being a team stat because you’ve got to have people on base. And we’ve been very fortunate through the years to have a lot of the state leaders in runs batted in, and it’s because we get a lot of opportunities with the top of the order. We talk about it a lot. That’s the most important thing you can do is drive that run in. However, you need to get it done, that’s what we talk about. Being able to do it.
“(Adie) had a lot of big hits this year with two strikes. That takes a special talent to be able to do that. She came through a lot this year in big situations. She certainly had a great year and we’re expecting a lot of big things from the entire team next year along with her.”
New Palestine finished the season 24-4 and ranked No. 5 in the final Class 4A poll prior to the postseason. The Dragons went a perfect 7-0 in Hoosier Heritage Conference play and reached their eighth straight sectional final, only to fall 1-0 to host Franklin in Sectional 13. It was the only time all season NP – which outscored its opponents by 178 runs – was shut out.
Marcum, who felt as if his team was talented enough to be playing in today’s 4A State Finals, is glad Lorsung is able to stick around for another state run.
“She’s stepped in and has done an outstanding job all three years,” he said. “Certainly we’ll hate to lose her once she graduates, but I’ve got another year to enjoy the time together.”
Lorsung, who plans to fulfill a childhood goal of playing college softball, feels good about the prospects for the 2015 Dragons, who lose two senior starters in Wood and Addi Clouse, but return everyone else.
“At the end of the year, I was really pleased with how well we played and I feel like that’s going carry over into next season and help us,” she said.