Catching is a cerebral position, so it's fitting that Carolyn LaPrete is in her fourth season behind the plate for the Grandview Heights High School softball team.
The senior has a 4.385 GPA, meaning she carries a heavy workload in the classroom and on the diamond.
"Carolyn is a smart cookie," said coach Tori Lynch, whose team was 4-12 overall and 2-4 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing London on April 30. "Sometimes she analyzes things too much, but that's who she is. She has to not only be knowledgeable but quick in her thinking in that position."
LaPrete isn't afraid of hard work. She started playing catcher beginning in the Grandview Baseball Softball Association.
"I have improved crazy amounts from when I was a freshman," said LaPrete, who plans to major in applied mathematics or engineering at Ohio State or Utah. "I always had been a catcher from GBSA and middle school, but I never really had the instruction. It was always my position, and I just did the best I could. So when I got to high school they threw me in because I was the only one who wanted to do it.
"I worked in games and in practice, and I would work with (Lynch), who was a middle-school coach at the time. She worked with me when she wasn't coaching her middle-schoolers. She worked with me on fundamentals like learning how I needed to throw, (and) dropping and blocking to keep things in front of the plate."
Lynch remembers those sessions. She was working with a player who had worn catcher's equipment but wasn't well-versed in the nuances of the position.
"In her freshman and sophomore years, she wasn't the best catcher, but she worked her butt off and kept getting better," Lynch said. "Mostly, it was a lack of individual coaching, but she made an effort to come to open gyms in the offseason. She's proof that if you work hard and practice, you can get a lot better."
LaPrete, who was second-team all-league last season, said playing catcher also means being a team leader.
"You have to have leadership skills because you can see the whole field and you have to command everybody," she said. "You touch the ball on every play, you're squatting all the time and you're working a lot.
"You have to persevere and work for the team. A lot of the reason you're there is for the pitcher. When you mess up it looks bad for the pitcher, and when the pitcher messes up it looks bad on you. You have to be a team within the team."
That teamwork was apparent April 27 when LaPrete caught a no-hitter from sophomore Claire Bower. After a six-day, weather-related break between outings, Bower struck out nine with no walks in a 25-0 win over Patriot Prep in five innings. She hit the first batter, so the gem was not a perfect game.
LaPrete also was a member of the girls golf program in the fall, but she said the two sports really do not complement each other.
"If anything, (the two swings) constantly mess each other up," she said. "My golf swing is a completely different motion than my softball swing, and sometimes you can get confused and mess up. You learn to separate them."
LaPrete seems to have worked out of a slump at the plate. She was hitting .238 through 11 games, but went 6-for-10 in her next three games to improve her average to .308.
Lynch expects to see more consistency once the weather improves and the game days become more regular.
"I think a big part of it is inconsistency and that comes from not seeing live pitching," Lynch said. "When you have that inconsistency, you can pick up bad habits."
The Bobcats are seeded ninth of 15 teams for the Division IV district tournament and open Monday, May 7, at fifth-seeded Granville Christian. The winner plays third-seeded Fairfield Christian or 12th-seeded Grove City Christian in the second round Wednesday, May 9, at the home of the better seed, and that winner plays in a district semifinal May 14.
"We dropped from Division III to Division IV by two kids," Lynch said.
"Our record doesn't show how good of a team we are because we have tried to schedule teams that play at a high level. My goal is to play as many tough teams in (the regular) season to get ready for the postseason. They see the competition that's out there instead of going out there and taking the easy route."
Baseball team remains in league title hunt
The baseball team remained in the MSL-Ohio race entering its final two league games against London on April 30 and May 2.
The Bobcats entered the week at 5-3 in the league, one game behind London (6-2). Grandview needed to sweep the two contests to earn its first league title since 2009. That season, it tied Fisher Catholic for the MSL-Cardinal title at 11-3.
"We're definitely trending upward," said coach Tyler Fitzgerald, who along with assistant Garrett Griffin were pitchers on the 2009 team. "The kids have shown a lot of moxie and never give up."
The Bobcats lost to Columbus Academy 8-7 on April 27 when the Vikings scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Grandview trailed 5-0 early, but rallied for a 7-5 lead.
The Bobcats also lost to Marion Pleasant 19-9 in six innings and Grove City Christian 6-5 in a doubleheader April 28 to drop to 12-10 overall.
Grandview, which also faced Ready on May 1, plays Thursday, May 3, at Westland and Friday, May 4, at home against Liberty Union.
The Bobcats are seeded 10th of 20 teams for the Division III district tournament. After a first-round bye, they open May 10 at home against 11th-seeded Pleasant.
Through 22 games, Joey Bertani led the Bobcats in batting average (.464), home runs (3), RBI (19), doubles (11) and on-base percentage (.526). He also had scored 15 runs.
Sam Amurgis was batting .389 with 16 RBI, 13 runs and a .471 on-base percentage. Jake Hollar was hitting .359 with nine RBI and team highs in runs (25) and stolen bases (11).
On the mound, Luke Berlin was 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA, 20 strikeouts and two walks in 33 1/3 innings. Jon Vetter was 4-0 with a 2.74 ERA, 23 strikeouts and 18 walks in 38 1/3 innings.
Track teams look to defend league titles
The boys and girls track and field teams begin defense of their MSL-Ohio championships Tuesday, May 8, on the opening day of the league meet at London.
The meet concludes May 11 at London.
The boys won their first league title since 2011 last season, edging Worthington Christian 146-145.
The girls won their ninth title in 10 seasons by outscoring Academy 144-136.5.
The Bobcats prepared for the league meet by competing in the Ranger Invitational on April 27 at Hamilton Township.
Whitney Schaefer won the 100-meter hurdles (16.87 seconds) and 300 hurdles (48.17) as the girls finished third (113 points) of 10 teams behind Watterson (162) and Chillicothe (135).
Liza DeVere won the high jump (4 feet, 10 inches), Maddy Morosky was first in the 400 (1:02.05) and Nina Amicon won the 800 (2:29.71).
Chris Miller won the 1,600 (4:34.34) for the boys, who finished fifth (71) of 11 teams behind champion Chillicothe (130).
Eli Evans, Jack Kessler, Eli Hall and Miller finished first in the 1,600 relay (3:37.73).
Below is the coming schedule for the Grandview Heights boys tennis team:
May 3 -- At Central Crossing
*May 4 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian
May 7 -- Home vs. West Jefferson
May 8 -- Home vs. Bloom-Carroll