Relatively speaking, Owensboro Catholic High School senior catcher Gracie Jennings — at 5-foot-3 — is small in physical stature on the softball field.
Make no mistake, however, there is absolutely nothing small about Jennings as a player or as a team leader for the Lady Aces.
She’s a big-timer.
Through the team’s first 11 games, Jennings is hitting .290 with three doubles and six runs batted in, but it is the on-field direction she provides her teammates that may be her most valuable asset to the squad.
“I have the best position on the field to see everybody and try to keep things organized for our defense,” Jennings said. “One of my main roles, as I see it, is to encourage players after they make a mistake and not let them get down.
“Otherwise, defensively, I try to work well with our pitchers, work as hard as I can, and not let anything get by me.
“Offensively, I just do my job in whatever way it needs to be done, situationally — I try to be as productive as I can for the benefit of the team.”
Jennings’ value to Catholic was on full display during Monday’s 8-5 conquest of visiting 9th District rival Apollo at Parents Park.
She went 1-for-1 with two walks — reaching base in each of her three plate appearances — drove in a run, scored a run, and threw out an E-Gals baserunner attempting to steal second.
“She’s as solid as they come in every area of her game,” Lady Aces coach Jeremy Phelps said. “I’ve coached her since she was 7 years old, and they just don’t come any better back there than Gracie.
“She’s a great player, a great leader, and she’s always ready to go — willing to do anything she can to help our team have success.”
Jennings has been on the Lady Aces’ varsity roster since she was in eighth grade, becoming the program’s starting catcher as a sophomore in 2019.
“I’ve always been a catcher, and I love it because I get to be involved in every single play,” said Jennings, who plans to attend the University of Kentucky and major in psychology. “That automatically keeps me in the game on every pitch and it’s just a great way to be able to play softball.”
“I’ve been playing since I was seven with probably half the girls on our current team, so we’ve all become pretty tight through the years after a decade of playing the game together.”
Now, Jennings is hoping Catholic’s tradition-rich program can become a consistent force and peak at the right time — tournament time.
“I think one of the main keys for us to have success when it matters most is to keep a positive attitude, not get down, and move on to the next play,” Jennings said. “What it comes down to is just going out there every day and doing your job — not for yourself, but for every player on the team.”