Lady Dragons catcher taking brainy approach in high school, select play

Posted Monday, Jun. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Any softball or baseball player will tell you that while physical gifts are needed to play the game, the real separation comes from what happens above the shoulders.

A keen sense for knowing game situations, scouting reports and deploying quick decisions can save a win or create one. That’s why Carroll senior-to-be catcher Lauren Heintzelman is going through an exhausting summer travel schedule with TFS Texas.

The select team has already played in two tournaments in Oklahoma, just finished playing in tournaments in Pennsylvania and Round Rock and is scheduled to play in tournaments in Colorado next week and Atlanta later next month.

Heintzelman is playing more third base than catcher. College programs recruiting or expressing some kind of interest in her – Army, Dartmouth, Minnesota, Stanford and Utah State – are using the summer to see how she progresses.

“It’s such a cerebral game,” Heintzelman said. “Our coaches emphasize for us to analyze and know just about every aspect of the game. They want us be aware of the type of hitter this is, what the swing looks like and to know how to react to anything else.”

Behind the plate, she helped Carroll advance to the Class 5A Region I area round. The Lady Dragons lost a tough three-game series to Lubbock Coronado. Heintzelman hit in the upper .300s and emerged as one of the mainstays for a program that is growing and looking to have better results under coach Tim Stuewe.

She should be a three-year starter. But the best thing about Heintzelman playing catcher is that she just simply loves it.

“I like seeing the entire field and knowing where everything is set up,” she said. “There are so many things you have to do about making defensive calls or calling pitches. I’ve really been working on a lot of things this summer to be a better leader for us next year.”

It’s been a maturation process. She missed most of her freshman year with the junior varsity with a broken thumb. When she moved up to the varsity as a sophomore, a senior occupied home plate, so her playing time was limited. Still, the fire burned as she would catch in a lot of catching-related drills. Last year was her time to take advantage of her opportunity.

And Stuewe has been giving her the latitude to make calls, work with pitchers and become more involved with the gameplan. He wants another set of eyes on the field.

“The select ball she’s playing will continue to help her work on her skills and exposure to college coaches,” Stuewe said. “She has been such a great leader for us which will continue to grow as she moves into her role as one of our seniors next year.”

Heintzelman has extended her time to offering pitchers more time to work with them off the field and in one-on-one impromptu meetings with pitching lessons. The pitcher-catcher relationship is so important to a team’s success.

When Carroll resumes school in August, Heintzelman said the workouts will start the first week. She’s ready and wants her teammates to be ready as well.

“Coach Stuewe told the seniors that we need to be ready to set the tone,” she said. “I’m looking forward to that.”

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