All-American Susie Blocher battles all the way back

I didn’t think I would ever get a chance to play or be active again ... Susie Blocher

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Susie Blocher spends much of her summer while home from Muskingum University working at Dairy King and daily honing her softball skills. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

GREENVILLE –  Susie Blocher, Greenville class of 2022, an NFCA High School All-American playing for the Greenville Lady Wave softball program is back in town for the summer working on her game and conditioning while working at Greenville’s Dairy King for the third consecutive year.

“I love working at Dairy King,” said Blocher. “I have worked here for the past three years. It was my high school job, and when you’re in college and you’re only home for three to four months out of the year, it’s a good thing to fall back on because no one wants to hire someone who can only work for a couple of months. When I’m home for a couple of days, they’ll pop me in and give me some hours. It’s like a family here. It’s a nice family establishment, and the food and ice cream is very good.”

“Susie Blocher is a great kid,” said Dairy King co-owner John Baumgardner. “When students return from college for the summer, we like hiring them back, especially those that work hard. Susie had a great college softball season this year, and we’re glad to bring her back to help us and mentor some of the high school students. We have five or six college kids who are back for the summer working for Dairy King. We have been blessed and enjoy giving back to the community.”

Blocher, the daughter of Kent and Tonya Blocher, is majoring in Exercise Science at Muskingum University and plans to work in Physical Therapy or athletic training.

“College ball, I love it,” said Blocher. “It’s a whole different atmosphere than high school. In high school, you get all the kids who love playing the game, and they want to be out there and have fun. College you have all-around athletes who want to compete and continue growing. It’s a different environment, but it makes it much better to enjoy knowing that you are going up against some of the best of all the high schools combined into one team.”

A four-year Lady Wave starter, Blocher carried a .519 batting average her junior season with 10 home runs, 13 doubles, 57 RBI, and 32 runs scored in 106 plate appearances on a team that went 31-1 before falling deep in tournament play.

Playing her senior season while battling back problems, Blocher had a respectable .424 batting average, 10 home runs, 36 RBI, 3 doubles, a triple, and 9 stolen bases in just 85 plate appearances with the Lady Wave going 29-4 before a late round tournament loss.

Greenville 2022 alum, Susie Blocher with her Lady Wave senior season hardware: Four Year Award, Best Defensive Player, Best Offensive Player & Highest Batting Average. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

LWSB is a high school fast-pitch softball program that dominates many teams. Most years, the starters do not play in the opening two rounds of OHSAA tournament games.

“You don’t run rule a lot of teams in college,” Blocher noted. “We did a couple of times this season, but everyone was on fire in those games. You didn’t have two or three girls that have great games; everyone has to have a great game, and you have to play your heart out for everything. There can’t be one mistake because that will cost you the game in college.”

Blocher still enjoys rounding the bases after crushing a home run out of the park at the next level of play.

“These college pitchers are recruited for pitching,” Blocher said. “Knowing that you can hit it out of the park on them and the feeling of rounding the bases as your team waits for you at the plate, it’s just a different level of satisfaction and joy. I didn’t hit as many as I did in high school but these pitchers are a lot better, they bring their “A” game every single time.”

Greenville Lady Wave veteran Hall of Fame coach Jerrod Newland, winner of 20 consecutive 25 or more wins seasons, is known for his discipline and high expectations in practice and on the field from all his players with no exceptions.

“Susie is awesome and has a tremendous family,” Newland said. “Her attention to detail and strive for excellence is incredible. She strikes the ball extremely solid and square. Last year she had a couple of crazy weeks and really rallied the crew.”

“Playing for Coach Newland set me up to do so well in college ball because his expectations of how you show up in practice, how you look walking on the field, it makes you mentally tough and ready for college ball,” Blocher said. “The coach I have now at Muskingum is like Coach Newland in a sense. She expects a lot of us mentally and puts a lot on our shoulders to carry ourselves with pride and to know not to look like we are ever defeated, or we’re tired, and it’s definitely a step up from high school.”

Susie Blocher crushes a home run for the Lady Wave in 2022 home game. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“Susie is just blessed to be able to play at that level again and push daily with her peers,” Newland stated. “I look for her to have a great few seasons ahead.”

Blocher passed up opportunities to continue her softball career at NCAA DI and DII colleges to play for Muskingum, an NCAA DIII program.

“I’m really happy at a DIII school,” she said. “Muskingum’s softball program is known, and I knew the program would fit. The level of ball was a step up from high school, but it’s also not consuming my life. I still have time to focus on school and my degree without having it do softball 24/7.

“Karsyn Shaffer went there, and Kelly Martin,” Blocher added. “It was such a big goal that I was walking into knowing those two Greenville legends had excelled there. I fell in love with the school, and the community atmosphere reminds me a lot of Greenville and my home.”

Blocher missed most of her freshman college season with back problems, which resulted in what was then thought to be a career-ending surgery.

“I sold my bat and everything,” Blocher said. “I didn’t think I would ever get a chance to play or be active again. I thought for sure this surgery was going to lead to me being a little less stable with my body not being able to put forth that much effort. I thought I would pretty much be a little handy cap for the rest of my life. I didn’t know what it meant but wouldn’t trade it for anything. I think it made me better as a person mentally.”

Greenville’s Susie Blocher makes a play at first in 2022 tournament action for the Lady Wave. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“I don’t think I could ever catch again with how much twisting and the force you have to conger up when you’re trying to throw down to second from your knees and pick anyone off. It’s a lot of jerking movement and twisting in the back, and I don’t know if I could ever get back to that again – I did love it, though.”

“My back has been doing really well,” Blocher added. “I haven’t had pains with it in a very long time. I have my final checkup appointment this Friday with Dr. Jones. It will be a year post-op, and I am excited for him to see my progress and how I have been feeling.”

Blocher didn’t officially red-shirt her freshman year, so she has two years of college eligibility remaining.

“I am going to compete for two years because I love softball, but it’s not going to be my life,” she said. “After my four years, I want to get into another grad school.”

Blocher works out at Greenville’s Academy and the Mississinawa Valley softball field to stay in condition during the summer while working on her game at home.

“I went to the Academy with Justine Shilt, and if I ever want to use a machine or hit some more front toss and it’s raining, I use the Academy,” Blocher noted. “I know Coach Newland, Cory Jenkinson, Justine, any of them would be willing to open it up and help me out. They love giving girls opportunities to get better.”

Blocher believes coaching softball may be in the cards when her college playing days are complete.

“Coaching she will be amazing,” said Coach Newland. “The pitchers and catchers kinda see the game differently and slower. Susie will be great, and she will motivate and provide a great role model for the Youngins. The bucket is ready, and no interview is needed when that time comes.”