Before each at-bat this season, Andover tri-captain Meaghan Leary has taken on a new ritual — involving a pair of batting gloves that would otherwise be gathering dust in her teammate’s closet.
“They are actually Nicole Ericson’s batting gloves,” said Leary. “Every time I go up to bat I slap my hands together and say, ‘This one’s for you Nicole.’”
The entire Andover High softball team was dealt a brutal blow over the winter when Ericson, a star junior, suffered a season-ending torn ACL while competing for the Golden Warrior ski team.
But while the slugging outfielder may be stuck on the bench this year, Ericson has set her eyes on making her mark on the diamond, as one of the three captains that are being counted upon to guide the young Warriors.
“I know how much it kills Nicole not to be able to play,” said tri-captain Allison Conway. “She is one of our best players and a great person, so it’s tough to see her hurt. We want to make her proud, and I think we can accomplish more than anyone thinks that we can.”
Coming off a sophomore season in which she hit .329 with 15 RBIs and 19 runs hitting primarily out of the leadoff spot, Ericson’s junior season was over before it started.
“I was just coming around a gate during a race,” she Ericson, who underwent surgery on the knee last Wednesday. “I lost my balance, my ski caught and my knee buckled.
“Softball is the biggest part of my life, so not being able to play is just heart-breaking. I love softball so much. But I also feel like this can be a learning opportunity for me. I can learn to lead even without being on the field.”