Maddy Keller looks forward to the butterflies.
Highland’s senior catcher has spent four years chasing that adrenaline rush, and it’s never better than when there is a runner threatening on third base. Keller embraces the butterflies while guarding the plate, ready to make the play at home.
“It’s the best feeling to finally be in control of something in your life when you’re playing softball,” she said. “I’m looking for the next play and trying to make a difference.”
Keller and co-captain Christine Thorderson have been making a difference at Highland since their freshman season. They are outspoken leaders working to leave a lasting impression on their teammates.
For Keller, softball isn’t about the wins. It’s a chance to teach younger players how to improve their lives. In learning how to hit and field, there are lessons that they can take with them in other arenas of their lives.
“I try to get them to understand how important it is to do well in both school and on the field,” Keller said. “The correlation between the two builds strong women.”
Thorderson, a center fielder who already committed to El Paso Community College, uses softball as a way of maintaining a positive direction.
“It grounds me,” she said. “Softball makes me want to be better and help show the other girls the right way to play the game. It gives you the attitude that you can do anything you want to work for.”
Demonstrating confidence is a common theme with the Rams. Even after last season’s rocky two-win campaign, Highland is committed to developing players for the future. Thorderson believes this can come only from building her teammates’ confidence.
“The scariest thing on the field is a player with confidence,” she said. “Even if you’re just imitating a confident player, you’ll always play better when you believe you can do it.”
First-year coach Michelle Hawkins is impressed with the raw talent on her team. She said the team is full of potential. It just needs to be better at shaking off bad innings.
“We lost to Woods Cross by a run, and that was just a tough first inning,” Hawkins said. “If we can get past these setbacks, we’re going to be a tough out.”
Keller and Thorderson do more than lead by example. Keller works with the pitchers, and Thorderson sets the tone in the outfield to improve the Rams’ defense. They are building a foundation for the younger players to find success on and off the field.
“I am so proud of my team,” Keller said. “They are working so hard on the little things. It’s more than the hitting and catching. I believe in them and know we’ll get the wins.”
Leading the way
Keller plans to attend Utah State and major in biology.
Thorderson received a scholarship to start as a varsity center fielder for El Paso Community College.
The Rams won their first game of the season, defeating Judge Memorial 19-7.