Munson Enjoys Phenomenal Freshman Season
The Guilford softball team made significant improvements on its way to putting together a special season in 2022. One of biggest factors behind Guilford’s resurgence was the play of freshman Ella Munson, who proved one of the most consistent performers on the squad while playing first base for the Grizzlies this spring.
Ella made an incredible impact during her first season on the high school diamond. After Guilford finished with a 7-11 record last year, Ella helped the Grizzlies go 19-3 and win their first divisional crown since 1999, earning All-Conference honors along the way.
Ella started playing tee-ball when she was five. Ella then competed in a recreational league and went on to play travel ball leading up to her inaugural season at Guilford. Ella’s debut with the Grizzlies went smoothly because she had grown up playing alongside many of her teammates and felt comfortable on the field.
“It was a lot easier to adjust, just because I knew a lot of the girls playing. It was better to know people going into the season to have our success as a team,” says Ella. “It was a more welcoming experience going into high school.”
Ella was asked to play first base during her time in travel softball and worked hard to learn the position. A similar situation occurred in regards to pitching. While Ella primarily played first base for the Grizzlies this season, she also got an opportunity to take the mound, tossing a complete-game shutout versus Morgan. Ella wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when she stepped on the field as a freshman, but her confidence started to grow as the season unfolded.
“I tend to sometimes be very hard on myself when it comes to making errors or making mistakes,” Ella says. “The confidence part is what I struggle with, but I’ve been learning to get better with that.”
Ella’s statistics certainly paint the portrait of a confident player. Ella’s batting average topped the .400 mark in her freshman season, and she also scored 27 runs to go with a team-leading 28 RBI. By virtue of her performance, Ella earned the honor of making the All-SCC Second Team.
Head Coach Meghan Wiese was amazed with how Ella contributed to the Grizzlies as a freshman and can’t wait to see what she brings to the team beyond this season.
“Ella is determined to get better every day and puts in the work. Her hard work and dedication certainly paid off this season, where she earned All-SCC honors,” says Wiese. “She’s a team player, and her passion for this sport is contagious. Ella will certainly be a contributor to the Grizzlies’ success in the years to come.”
Ella’s main goal as a freshman was to simply play and improve. Ella wasn’t expecting to be such a catalyst in Guilford’s offense right off the bat, but approached challenge with the right attitude to tackle that task. In the end, Ella feels proud about what both she and her team accomplished this year.
“It was a surprise that I did this well this season. It was really unexpected how well I did,” Ella says. “Personally, I’m really proud of myself and our team for making it this far.”
Guilford’s season featured a 17-game winning streak and an SCC Hammonasset title to go with appearances in both the SCC and Class L State tournaments. In the SCC quarterfinals, Ella hit a home run that helped the Grizzlies earn a 3-2 victory versus Hand. Although Guilford was hoping to go a little deeper in its two playoff tournaments, Ella and her teammates learned a lot about how to deal with the ups and downs of softball throughout the campaign.
“We didn’t go out the way we wanted to, but I’m proud of us for how far we came and how much fun we had doing it,” says Ella. “It’s a big game of failure, and you can’t really get down on yourself when you do fail, because there’s always more chances and opportunities to get better and to do well.”
While putting up some impressive numbers, Ella also cared deeply about the team chemistry in Guilford’s dugout this season. The Grizzlies held themselves to a high standard, and that attitude proved an integral factor in their success. One of the reasons why Ella feels the club performed so well is because everyone always stuck together during difficult situations.
“We were all very supportive of one another, and I think that really helped us as a whole. We would all just pick each other up, and I think that’s what really helped us on the field,” Ella says. “If something bad would happen, we would just shake it off and look at the positive aspects of the game, rather than the negatives.”
Ella’s success as a freshman demonstrated that she is going to be a player to watch throughout the next few seasons. Ella helped the Grizzlies in a multitude of ways this year, and she’s excited about what’s to come for the team in 2023.
“I’m very excited looking to next season. We have a lot of young talent, and even our incoming freshman, I think that we have a lot of potential,” says Ella. “I think that if we put it forward, that we could potentially be a great team, even as a good as we were this year and maybe even better.”