RICHLAND, Mich. — Of all the positions to play in softball, pitching is what Lauren Esman loves the most, she said. She’s been playing the sport since she was kid. However when she tried pitching in high school at Gull Lake as a freshman, she grew nervous.
“There were pitchers ahead of me,” Lauren said. “But I kind of found my place. I played a little outfield freshman year which was really cool.”
During her sophomore year, Lauren improved a lot she said. She began hitting and that’s when her softball career took off.
Lauren capped her senior season with a 23-1 record and a 0.43 earned-run average. She became so dominant that she was voted Gatorade Softball Player of the Year for the state of Michigan.
“I don’t know that I expected it but I feel like all the hard work that I’ve done, I deserve to win,” said Lauren, who was also a 3x all-star. “I’m just glad that everything came together.”
Although she's proud of everything she's done, Lauren said none of it would be possible without her brother Austin.
“Oh he’s my best friend and everybody knows,” Lauren said smiling. “All of my friends they’ll see him smiling. They’ll give him like a pat on the back or a hug. It’s just awesome to see.”
Lauren said everyone loves his positive spirit. Austin, who’s 14 months older, was born with cerebral palsy. He struggles to walk daily. But he’s never missed a game or a practice.
“We’re really close,” she said. “I lot of people in our grade think that were twins. So it’s really cute.”
One of Lauren's favorite memories of the two of them was when they graduated together in June. Lauren pushed Austin in his wheelchair across the stage. It's a memory she'll carry with her to college at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do for four years,” Lauren said. "I mean, he’ll be at every game which will be great. So I'll definitely be able to see him and come home.”