Pittsburgh’s Katherine Kramer steps up to the plate, swings, and hits a ball deep into left field. At first glance it looks to be a home run, but it’s a little short and too far to the left. Just as the ball is set to hit foul ground, a glove snatches it seemingly out of nowhere. Junior Annie Sommers stands up, composes herself, and throws the ball into the infield.
A few innings later, Sommers makes a similar diving effort for a foul ball, but comes up short despite risking hitting her head on the side wall. “I kind of love your left fielder,” says the sports information director visiting from Pitt, to no one in particular in the press box.
For the Pasadena, Calif. native, softball has always been an important facet of life. Having a father who played both minor league and college baseball, Sommers grew up in a household surrounded by baseball and softball, starting with tee ball and transitioning into travel softball when she was in high school.
It was not all fun and games, though, as Sommers seriously considered quitting softball when she was a junior in high school.
Sommers was burnt out, used up by the quantity of games she played with her travel softball team. In the summer, it ranged close to 100. Yet, with her family pushing her and reminding her of the college softball and eventual coaching dreams she held, Sommers kept with the sport. Then, in her senior year of high school, she began to struggle with injury.
“I got injured my senior year in high school playing soccer-I tore my ACL, so I missed my senior season,” Sommers said. “A year and a week later, I remember I was on the bus up to Upper, and I remember telling my roommates, ‘Wow, guys, it’s been a year since I’ve torn my ACL.'”
The next game she played was a scrimmage against Harvard in the bubble, just a couple of weeks away from the softball team’s season opener. Sommers was playing right field and followed a fly ball as it hit the top of the bubble and came down at a stark angle. The ball took a strange bounce-Sommers stopped, pivoted, and tore her left ACL.
She missed every regular season game in her freshman year, then came back her sophomore year and earned herself a starting position in the outfield.
“She tore her ACL, which was a huge bummer, and then really worked her butt off rehabbing and really getting it stronger,” said Boston College head coach Ashley Obrest.
Obrest sees Sommers’ hard work and focus from rehab extending to both batting and fielding. She said that Sommers has greatly improved on her batting, thanks in part to her dedication to film-watching and consistency in showing up for extra hitting.
“In left field, she gives effort on every single ball that goes to her,” Obrest said. “Whether it is her diving for a ball that is foul or her making a routine play, she is always going after it hard.”
Despite having dealt with two ACL tears, Sommers does not let that hold her back from diving recklessly to catch balls in the outfield.
“I like to sacrifice my body,” she said. “If I’m not coming out of a game with bruises or scrapes on my knee, then I’m like, ‘Ah, I didn’t have a good game.’ I need to get my jersey dirty.”
Sommers also cites her strong faith as a holding factor in the way she approaches softball games. Her helmet features the Biblical verse of Colossians 3:23, which reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
The BC softball team is currently enjoying a winning season, in which it has already collected eight more wins than last year’s 14-38 campaign.
She attributes this to a strong sense of togetherness on a team devoid of cliques or limited friend groups.
“This year has been great,” she said. “We’ve been winning, and I think our team has really come together. It’s the first time a lot of us have been excited about who our teammates are.”
This has translated into on-field success, according to Sommers, which can be seen in BC’s wins and near losses against softball powerhouses Arizona State and Michigan.
Sommers has a knack for making her contribution to the team clear, whether it is a diving catch, pulling her team into a huddle after the end of an inning, or making a big hit. In fact, just yesterday she hit a home run in the Eagles’ loss to visiting Maryland.
“Watch out for BC,” she said. “I think we’ve been surprising a lot of people, which I’m excited about. I know we have the talent, the drive, and motivation. When we are on, we are very hard to beat.”