Greenbrier High School softball pitcher Katie Tracy knows where her team's strength lies, and she plays to it.
The Wolfpack, ranked No. 1 in the most recent Class AAAAA poll, have prided themselves on defense. Tracy has been able to hone her control and not worry about the ball being put in play.
"Like Coach (Garrett) Black says, defense is our bread and butter," Tracy said. "It can get us back to Columbus."
Columbus is the site of the GHSA softball state finals, where the final eight teams compete. Greenbrier made the trip last year behind the then-sophomore Tracy, who pitched 32 of 34 innings for the Wolfpack during the playoffs. She went a stretch of 31 consecutive innings without allowing a run.
Tracy took on a more prominent role as a pitcher last season after Black decided standout pitcher Kassie Bailey would be a better fit at first base.
"Midseason we started thinking we were going to be better with Katie on the mound," Black said. "It made us better as a team. Both of them accepted their roles."
Tracy started this season with an 8-0 record and not having allowed a run. But like last year, Tracy finds herself sharing responsibilities.
Sophomore Savannah Koon has proven herself as both a pitcher and a reliable bat.
"With Savannah making the progress she has in the last year, we have somebody pushing Katie," Black said. "It's a good competition between the both of them."
Last year, it was her pushing Bailey. She seems comfortable with the role reversal.
"We know our jobs," Tracy said.
Tracy has benefited from a strong family pedigree. Her brother, who graduated in 2001, pitched for Greenbrier's baseball team. Her sister, Laura, pitched for the Wolfpack's softball program, graduating in 2005.
Katie Tracy is next.
She has been playing softball since she was 5 and has been a member of Greenbrier's varsity squad since she was a freshman. She said she has always liked pitching for the responsibility that comes with the job.
"Everyone counts on you to throw your best," Tracy said.
Tracy has delivered more than once. She said she relies heavily on her riseball and changeup, and likes to try to keep batters guessing the location before changing speeds on them.
Tracy still has a year before having to decide about where she might play after high school. She said she has already heard from a couple schools and hopes to learn more during a college night at Greenbrier on Thursday.
Until then, she'll continue to help the Wolfpack any way she can.
Greenbrier has breezed through the first portion of its first season as a Class AAAAA school, with an 11-0 start and 4-0 record in region play to end last week.
Tracy has done her part, including pitching a shutout against 2007 Region 2-AAAAA runner-up Luella. She didn't allow a walk.
"Talk to any coach who coached a championship team," Black said. "They're going to tell you the role players -- that's what's going to win championships."
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