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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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Watson: Behind the scenes of being a catcher

I have been playing catcher for the majority of my softball career. If you do or do not know me, my name is Claire and I am a freshman on the Saint Mary's softball team. My current primary position is outfield, and my secondary is being a catcher, but I will never deny how much I love being behind the plate. 

I will be answering some of the big questions that I get as a catcher and pose them to Notre Dame senior softball catcher Carlli Kloss and Notre Dame junior baseball catcher Joey Spence.

The first few questions that I get often are, “How long have you been playing?” and “When did you start playing catcher?” I started playing softball when I was four years old, and it was the only sport that really clicked with me. I started being a catcher around the age of 10. When my softball team needed a catcher, I just sort of said, “Sure, I’ll do it!” 

The second question that I get very often is, “What is your favorite part about being a catcher?” I think that my answer to this question is that I love being able to see the field and see where the ball is and where the runners are. 

A third question asked that can be difficult to answer is: “What do you believe is the most important aspect to being a catcher?” I think there are a lot of different answers that I could give, but I think that there are two things that I find to be most important. The first one is being loud so that everyone can hear you. You need to make sure that, as a catcher, the entire field can hear and understand you. The second is blocking the ball so that baserunners cannot steal bases or score a run. Home plate is my base when I am catching, and it is my job to protect it no matter what. 

The final question that I get most often is, “What is the mentality of being a catcher during a game?” First, I want to start with the fact that softball is a game of errors. No one is perfect and I have to accept the fact that errors will happen. I just go in being confident in my abilities. 

Carlli Kloss

Carlli Kloss is a senior catcher on the Notre Dame softball team. In addition to this, Carlli is the only person in the program's history to win the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

Q: When did you start being a catcher?

A: When I was 11 years old, and that is when I was still on a rec ball team.

Q: Why did you choose to be a catcher?

A: I have an older sister who is seven years older than me, and she started catching at a young age. My dad had all of the gear, and she was doing well, so my dad decided to have me try. I get a lot of inspiration from my older sister.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a catcher?

A: I love being able to see the entire field from my view. It taught me to understand the players, especially the pitchers. I love interacting with the umpires as well. And if you get to know them really well, they will help you with the strike zone, which makes the game flow a little bit better.

Q: What do you personally believe is the most important aspect to being a catcher?

A: I think it is having the confidence to put your pitchers before yourself. You have to be able to be the most selfless person on the field, put your body in front of the ball to not let a run score, call the right plays and frame the pitchers' pitches so that they look better than they actually are.

Q: What is your mentality when you are catching a game?

A: I would say my mentality is to never stop. I think throughout the game it can get really hot, and I think it’s just that perseverance and grinding it out. You have to be there for your pitcher and your team. You have to be tough because you are protecting the plate and the runners might run into you.

Joey Spence

Joey Spence also commented on what it is like being a catcher at Notre Dame. 

Q: When did you start playing catcher?

A: I became a catcher [in] my first year of Little League. My dad always wanted [me] to be behind the plate.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a catcher? 

A: Being able to be a part of every play and every pitch, helping out my pitchers as much as I can and helping out the pitching staff.

Q: What do you personally believe is the most important aspect to being a catcher? 

A: I would say the most important thing is being able to multitask, knowing what is happening and knowing the situation in the field while at the same time being able to execute your job as the catcher.

Q: What is your mentality when you are catching a game?

A: I say my mentality when catching a game, I am not letting anything get by me, stealing some pitches, working with umpires and understanding their game plan and how they are calling the game. I treat it like a chess game, being one step ahead and trying to prevent mistakes before they happen.

The final stretch

Looking ahead, Notre Dame softball hopes to enter the ACC Softball Championship on May 8 depending on results from other conference series this weekend. Notre Dame baseball prepares to face Pittsburgh at home for a three-game series this weekend.

Saint Mary's softball has a packed schedule this week with several away games. They face Anderson on May 1, Manchester on May 2 and then return home to play Albion on May 3 for senior night, marking their final home games of the season.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.