Kelly Sonnemann had a chance on Wednesday to celebrate her 18th birthday a few days early at Douglas High School.
That is, the Douglas three-sport senior standout celebrated before a crowd of family, friends and media when she signed to play softball at Humboldt State University (Arcata, Calif.). For Sonnemann, who turns 18 on Saturday, it was a memorable day. Just as important, she can now better focus this coming spring and her fourth season as starting catching at Douglas.
“I’m definitely relieved to know just where I’m going so I don’t have to worry about that anymore,” Sonnemann said, flashing a wide grin. “I’ve got four more years set out for me. Now, I can just have fun and play ball.”
Sonnemann was a first-team all-Sierra League catcher last season while helping the Tigers post a 23-12 record and trip to the Division I Northern Region Tournament championship round.
She is also preparing to play basketball this winter and recently completed a successful tennis season in which she combined with doubles partner Katelin Teigen to compile a 27-2 regular season record and help the Tigers win the Sierra League championship.
Rob Parks was impressed with the spectator’s view he had of Sonnemann last spring. Now, he is looking forward to watching her play as first-year head coach of the Douglas program.
“I’m looking forward to coaching her,” Parks said. “I was at every game and Kelly was great. She hit in the middle of the lineup, we’d get runners on base and she was always hitting a line drive into the gap. And behind the plate I think she is one of the best catchers in the North.
“The combination of hitting and defense, the colleges notice that,” he added. “I think it’s (Humboldt State) a great fit for Kelly.”
Assistant coach Kayla Jacobsen echoed that view of Sonnemann’s performance.
“She’s an excellent player, just a huge leader on the field and off the field,” said Jacobsen, who played softball for Douglas and later for Georgia Tech and Utah State. “She was a rock behind the plate last year. She called games herself and she was our No. 3 hitter most of the year.”
Sonnemann looks forward to moving into a highly successful program at Humboldt State. The Lumberjacks are coming off a 53-14 season in which they won California Collegiate Athletic Association and NCAA Division II West Region championships and played three games in the Division II national tournament.
“I was looking around at the California state system this summer and came across Humboldt so I said, ‘Why not?,’” Sonnemann said.
Sonnemann sent an email to Shelli Sarchett, had just stepped up as Humboldt State’s head coach to succeed Frank Cheek (1,148 wins in 25 seasons). She accepted an invitation to visit Arcata in October and liked what she saw.
Sonnemann, whose cumulative grade point average at Douglas stands at 3.8, is uncertain about what course of studies she will pursue.
“I honestly don’t know,” she said. “I don’t know what I want to do yet.”
Parks is looking forward to the spring season.
“This is a great team,” he said. “Andy (Mitchell, former coach) did a great job building the program with Kayla and Christina (Harper). The Carson Valley Girls Softball Association has done a great job of bringing the girls along … we’ve got a lot of young girls coming up and we’re really looking forward to Kelly providing leadership on the team. What I need to do is get out of the way and let her do her thing because she’s going to be a rock star this year.”