Photo credit Tim Dougherty, Scranton University
Megan Zinn had watched her senior season of college softball disappear as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country.
The 2020 Scranton University Royals had opened at 2-0 and showed plenty of promise off a 2019 Landmark Conference championship. Zinn, a former Finch’s Aces and Bridgewater-Raritan High School star, led her team in hitting her junior season. So, her senior season had begun with unlimited optimism.
“It was a tough break,” says Zinn. “We won our first two games and the day before our spring break trip to Florida we got the word. We had a really good class of freshman to fill some gaps so we had a pretty good feeling about the season.”
The NCAA would quickly provide relief for senior athletes in the form of an extra year of athletic eligibility. That option doesn’t work for every senior as many intend to enter the working world and get on with their lives. But Zinn, in an Early Childhood program that includes a path to a Masters Degree, did have a favorable option.
“It didn’t take very long to make that decision,” says Zinn, Scranton’s spectacular center fielder and prodigious No. 3 hitter. “I just had to address some conflicts between my grad program and softball. Once I talked to my coach and teammates, everyone was on board.
“I’m in an accelerated five-year program and I was going to be on campus anyway.” So Zinn was back for another run.
While she completed her student teaching obligation as an undergrad, Zinn will again be in the classroom next spring while completing her Masters Degree. “I’ll have to bring a change of clothes with me to school,” says Zinn.
Promising 2020 becomes promising 2021
Scranton head coach Mia Collarini-Wascura began her ninth season this spring with a young but talented squad that included just three seniors. She’ll return all but one from her 2020 roster in September. Two of her three seniors have decided to return.
Senior third baseman Casey DeSarno, an Occupational Therapy major from Wall Twp., N.J., joins Zinn for what should be an exciting 2021 season for the Royals. DeSarno, like Zinn, studies in a five-year program with a Masters Degree path.
“We will have positive roster problems next year,” says Zinn. “We have talent coming in and two seniors staying and both were four-year starters. That takes two spots from freshmen but we are planning on a bigger roster. We’ll have a lot of young talent and this year’s freshmen will be taking some starting roles.”
A captain the past two seasons, albeit an abbreviated one this spring, Zinn will be in a major leadership role with the Royals once again.
Scranton went 32-15 in 2019, its second straight 30-win season, while its powerful offense batted .324 and boasted a .376 on-base percentage. Zinn was right in the middle of that, batting a staggering .459 and posting an astonishing 1.109 OPS. She rapped out 72 hits, including 21 doubles, drove in 43 runs and scored 51 runs in 47 games.
While Zinn also had a terrific sophomore season in 2018, batting .362 with 50 hits, her 72 hits and .459 average in 2019 was otherworldly. She attributed the nearly 100-point jump in batting average and increase of 22 hits over one year to a little help at the plate.
“We had a new assistant coach (Justin Stevens) come in who is very knowledgeable on the swing,” said Zinn. “He helped me fix whatever I was doing wrong. He’s been a great addition to the team.” Stevens had been a volunteer assistant with Scranton’s baseball program before joining the softball team as a full-time assistant.
Chasing school records
Zinn, a three-time All-Landmark Conference selection, is in position to eclipse a number of Scranton’s career hitting records. She’ll, in fact, have a chance to surpass 200 career hits and 100 career RBI. A .407 career hitter with a .970 career OPS, she ranks among her schools all-time leaders in runs scored (2nd), hits (3rd), doubles (3rd), batting average (.4th), total bases (4th), at bats (5th), on-base percentage (9th) and RBI (10th).
“I’m so happy Meg is fortunate enough to be able to play out her last year at Scranton,” says her Finch’s Aces coach Ami Iwicki. “She has done amazing things in her first three years and I’m thrilled she can work toward another championship and break more records.”
Zinn’s success at the plate is only one part of the equation that makes her an outstanding player. She not only covers a lot of ground in center field and makes some outstanding plays; she was flawless in the field in both 2018 and 2019, registering 104 putouts without an error. In fact, Zinn has committed just one error in her three-plus years of college ball.
Zinn’s prowess on the field earned her Third Team All-American recognition in 2019 and, further stamping herself as the well-rounded student-athlete, she added a First Team Academic All-American honor.
“The real world can wait for the difference Meg will make,” says Iwicki. “Right now she needs to tear it up on the field. I can’t wait to watch her continued success between the white lines with the ridiculous catches she makes and the clutch hits she always comes through with.”
But, of course, the efficient Zinn has a post-college plan that she has already gotten a taste of both as a student teacher and a substitute. She has substituted in her home district, Bridgewater-Raritan.
“That career experience comes first,” says Zinn. “I’ve loved it. It’s nice to get some of that experience in your home district.” Zinn is certified to teach K-through-6 special education
“I’ll be ahead of the game with my Masters Degree,” says Zinn. “I’m hoping to get a job close to home so I can live there and save some money. And there are a lot of major school districts in that area. We’ll see what’s open for me a that point.”
Meanwhile, Zinn and her teammates follow the workout program set forth by Collarini Wuscara to stay fresh and focused on their game.
“Coach gave us a plan to follow that‘s pretty structured,” says Zinn. “The only issue is there are no gyms open. But we figure out a way.”
Did you know?: Zinn was joined in Scranton this school year by Olivia Burd, another alum of the Finch’s Aces program out of Diamond Nation. Burd is a 2019 Hunterdon Central grad. Both Zinn and Burd greeted current Finch’s Aces player Mia Robb during her January visit to Scranton University. … Robb, a junior pitcher and outfielder at Ridge High School, gave her verbal commitment to Scranton last Friday.
… Burd, a freshman outfielder, saw her first college action in Scranton’s game two victory over New York University in early March. … Collarini Wascura was graduated from Scranton in 2011 and quickly assumed the head coaching reins at the school in 2012. She has put together an impressive 172-120 (.589) record, including the school’s first two 30-win seasons in 2018 and ’19.
Megan Zinn Career Stats
G-126; AB-407; R-112; H-165; D-38; T-3; HR-2;
RBI-77; SB-18; AVG-.405; OBP-.441; SLG-528; OPS-.969