By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Anna Mae Peterson never got to play her senior softball season at Wildwood Catholic High School.
That did not prevent her from earning the opportunity to play at the Division I level in college, however.
Peterson, who missed her final high school season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during an indoor workout with her travel team late in the winter, is set to play at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md., on a partial athletic scholarship.
“I’m really excited,” Peterson said. “I feel very fortunate because I didn’t get to this point on my own. I had a lot of help from my parents and my coaches and my guidance counselors. Anyone who gets a chance to go Division I should know that you’re not going to get there alone. You have to appreciate the people around you that help you get there.”
Peterson, a Wildwood Crest resident, played an integral role in Wildwood Catholic winning back-to-back South Jersey titles in 2017 and 2018. The third baseman was one of the best offensive players in South Jersey as a junior, hitting .465 with eight home runs and 43 RBI. She had 40 hits that season and finished her career with 77 hits despite missing her final season.
“Playing softball at Wildwood Catholic literally changed my life,” Peterson said. “Coach Matt (Megines) and those girls really pushed me to continue to try to get better at playing softball. Tearing my ACL was a bummer. I had such a good three years before that. We broke records and we won two (South Jersey) titles so it was great. Missing my senior year was hard but I got to watch the younger girls do some really good things. It was good to be able to watch them play.”
Peterson said she did not fear for her athletic future after learning the nature of her injury. She said Mount St. Mary’s coach Anna Nagro pledged full support.
“I have a really good relationship with (Nagro),” Peterson said. “She told me it wouldn’t be a problem. She showed a lot of sensitivity for what I was going through. She texted me every single day during my recovery. Losing my chance to play in college didn’t really cross my mind because of the way she treated me. The only negative about it was that I missed my senior year.”
Mount St. Mary’s, a member of the Northeast Conference, finished 26-28 overall last season.
“Anna Mae is an athletic corner (infielder) who has the ability to generate a tremendous amount of power offensively,” Nagro said in a story on the Mount St. Mary’s athletics website announcing the program’s new signees. “Her size and power will help keep our offense dynamic. She has worked extremely hard to earn this opportunity and once Anna Mae hits our training program she will only get better.”
Peterson said she plans to major in business and sports management at Mount St. Mary’s.
Peterson will likely sit out the fall exhibition season for Mount St. Mary’s but said she expects to receive full medical clearance in time for the regular season in 2020.