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BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
You know you're a hot commodity on the recruiting front when you send out 40 letters to prospective universities and you get 43 replies.
"I'm not really sure how that happened," said Megan Langenfeld, a 2006 Centennial High graduate who then enjoyed a spectacular softball career at UCLA.
Langenfeld capped her Bruin career by leading UCLA to the 2010 national championship. She was the College World Series Most Outstanding Player after one of the most remarkable postseason performances in NCAA softball history.
She later played on the U.S. national team and professionally in Japan.
Now 25, she said she's no longer playing and is focusing on coaching.
Langenfeld will be inducted into the Bob Elias Kern County Sports Hall of Fame on Feb. 28 at the Marriott Hotel.
Joining her in the Class of 2013 is former Cal State Bakersfield wrestling standout and three-time Super Bowl winner Stephen Neal, former NFL defensive lineman Spain Musgrove and Dr. William F. Baker Jr., the Bakersfield College team doctor for the past 38 years.
Langenfeld dominated Kern County high school softball while at Centennial, winning three straight All-Area Player of the Year awards from 2004-06.
She said her favorite player growing up was former UCLA pitching standout Lisa Fernandez, who is now an assistant coach at UCLA.
"UCLA was always my No. 1 choice," she said. "Always my dream school. Not because of Lisa but because of academics and athletics, all of the athletics traditions in football, basketball and especially softball."
She calls Fernandez the biggest influence in her softball life.
"She could do it all. She could pitch, hit and play third base, so she was not a one-trick pony," Langenfeld said. "I wanted to be sure I could do everything, too."
Langenfeld finally got to meet Fernandez for the first time on her first day at UCLA her freshman year.
"We were introduced by the current head coach Kelly Inouye," Langenfeld said. "I was in awe. But after that, Lisa was my assistant coach, not so much an idol."
Langenfeld excelled as a hitter and pitcher at UCLA. She was a first-team All-American her junior and senior seasons and was a four-time All-Region and four-time All-Pac-10 selection.
Langenfeld earned her degree in economics and was a three-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection. She is working toward her master's.
At UCLA she had a lifetime batting average of .385 with 39 home runs and 170 RBIs. In pitching, she went 53-9 with a 1.42 career ERA.
"I preferred hitting," Langenfeld said. "But I pretty much played wherever it got me into the lineup. If I was playing first and hitting, fine. If I was pitching, fine."
By the time Langenfeld finished her UCLA career, she was ranked in the top 10 in nine statistical categories.
But it was her senior year in 2010 where Langenfeld reached heights few have attained.
She had a spectacular season: .527 batting average with 20 homers and 58 RBIs while also going 14-1 in 25 games as a pitcher.
And she took it another level in the College World Series when she led the Bruins to the national title.
A .706 batting average was the second-highest ever recorded in the softball College World Series. She tied the records for most home runs (4) and runs scored (8) and set a record for highest slugging percentage (1.529). She also went 3-0 as a pitcher.
Langenfeld homered twice vs. Arizona, UCLA's arch rival, in the College World Series opener, with the second a game-ending blast in the eighth inning.
"I'd never had a walk-off anything before, not even a base hit," Langenfeld said. "To have a walk-off home run was one of the most amazing things.
"That would be the highlight of my career. That would be the most defining moment if I could bottle it up and put it on my mantle."
Langenfeld was honored as the Los Angeles Sportswoman of the Year and was an ESPY Award finalist. She was also a finalist for the USA Softball National Player of the Year award.
In 2011, she played on the U.S. National team, and then professionally in Japan.
Now she says her playing career is over.
"I feel content with my career," she said. "I feel I've done what I've wanted to do in my playing days."
She is a graduate assistant at the University of Arkansas and her goal is to eventually be a head coach.
"I do get a lot of joy coaching and teaching the game and help girls achieve something. Hopefully they'll do what I got to do."
She said she's limited in the type of instruction she can give at Arkansas.
"I pitch a lot of BP," Langenfeld said, referring to batting practice. "Because of NCAA rules, I can't give instruction. We already have three coaches on staff," Langenfeld said. "But if the girls ask questions, I can give advice. 'If this was me hitting, this is what I'd do.' And they can take it from there."
Langenfeld is the second-youngest person to be inducted into the Elias Hall of Fame. The only younger inductee was world champion roller skater Natalie Dunn Fries who was 22 when she was inducted in 1978.