HawkStrong: Karlee Plensdorf finishes her softball career strong at HFC

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Softball team photo of Karlee Plensdorf.

When she was a little girl, Karlee Plensdorf always loved playing outside, but never had any interest in sports.

Her mother would always ask her if she wanted to try any sports, and Plensdorf’s reply was always no. One day, when she was age 11, her mother signed her up for a Little League softball team at the Anderson Snow Sports Complex in Spring Hill, FL. Plensdorf was hooked and discovered how much she loved softball. She has played the game ever since.

At Airport High School in Carleton, Plensdorf was a 4-year varsity starter for the softball team and also played volleyball for two years. She played alongside Lauren Gannon, her fellow Hawk.

“I loved seeing Karlee grow as a person and player on and off the field,” said Gannon. “The way she has excelled the last six years is crazy! This past season she came back so much stronger and I could see how much more she wanted it this year! I am truly going to miss her.”

HFC coaches had a profound influence on her and how she plays the game

The youngest of three, Plensdorf attended HFC on a softball scholarship. Assistant Coach Jeff Laufenberg, whom Plensdorf has known since she was a high school freshman, invited her to tour the campus and offered her a spot on the HFC softball team. Not only was she attracted to the HFC campus, she was very impressed with the coaches.

Coach Steve Brown was always so involved with every member of the team and always had a great attitude,” said Plensdorf. “He would do anything for anyone and is such an amazing person. I consider him one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. He helped me correct my swing and any other mechanics that needed attention. The love he had for this team and for the game is something I will never forget.”

Plensdorf continued: “Coach Laufenberg and Coach (Charles) Green believed that I could do anything in life, and they made me a better player overall. Coach Green was always so uplifting and helped me mentally. Coach Laufenberg also helped a lot. He is a caring, down-to-earth person and will always be there for you.”

Playing the game she loves on live TV

For the 2022-23 season, the Hawks took third place in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Eastern Conference with a record of 17-13. The team’s overall record was 21-17. One of the highlights of this season was being featured as the NJCCA Game of the Week on ESPN+.

“I really liked appearing on ESPN+. It was great exposure for all the players,” recalled Plensdorf. “It was really fun to be on camera doing something I love on live TV. When we first heard that it was happening, it was really exciting. We couldn’t wait for the day to come. I had never been on TV before, so it was an awesome experience.”

One highlight for Plensdorf was being named to the MCCAA Second Team All-Eastern Conference.

“I want to thank the coaching staff for believing in me and making me work hard,” she said. “I also want to thank my parents. My mom came to every game and was there every day. My dad made it to most of my games. I couldn’t have done it without either of them.”

Personal experience inspires PT career aspirations

Plensdorf studied pre-physical therapy at HFC. This fall, she will transfer to Pasco-Hernando State College in her native Florida, where she will continue her undergraduate education. She has no plans to continue her softball career at PHSC.

“What inspired me to go into physical therapy was I tore my labrum in my shoulder in 2021 and had to have surgery to get it fixed. I went to physical therapy a couple times a week for several months. The physical therapist I had was very inspiring and taught me a lot about what had to happen with my shoulder. She inspired me to go into that field,” she explained.

Plensdorf will miss HFC and will always look back on her time at the College fondly.

“The best part of playing for the College was every player I met along the way,” she said. “They all had a certain impact on me that will last a lifetime. They are all great people and I want to thank them for being part of one of the best two teams I’ve ever played for.”