Plenty to love about Whiteís glove
By Mike London
Questions about the numerous records she set in four years on Catawbaís softball team are the one thing Jac White canít field smoothly.
iI always hated worrying about anything like that,î she said. iI donít care, really. I just wanted to play the games and have fun and not think about it.î
The 5-foot-9 White combined a long reach with the agility of a much smaller player, and she efficiently handled the one record she did give a hoot about.
She played in all 52 games her senior season without making an error at first base. That record will be her legacy. White had 349 chances to make a mistake this season ó 319 putouts and 30 assists ó but she never did.
iI donít think I made any phenomenal plays,î White said. iYour job as a first baseman is to catch what comes to you, and thatís what I did. Just did my job.î
For a first baseman not to kick a bunt or make a bad throw home or lose concentration in the second game of a doubleheader a single time from February to April is hard to imagine.
iFor a first baseman to go a whole season without an error really is exceptional,î Catawba coach Nan Whitley said. iThatís just tough to do. But Jac played great defense herself while helping out everyone else. She was a great leader for our infield, did a great job of talking to the pitchers.î
Whiteís gold-glove effort as a senior was even more impressive than it sounds because things didnít go her way with a bat in her hands.
For three years, Whitley knew exactly what sheíd get from the lefty swinger. White batted .296 as a freshman, .288 as a sophomore and .297 as a junior. This season, White fell off to .221, but she never carried empty at-bats into the field.
iIn a nutshell,î Catawba catcher Ryann Baker said, iJac just hit it right at people all year long.î
Whiteís strikeouts were actually down from previous seasons, so she was putting the ball in play consistently.
Holes were hard to find.
iI think you could have put nine on that field anywhere you wanted to, and Iíd have hit it right to them every time,î White said. iBut I never did get frustrated. Itís hard to be frustrated when youíre hitting the ball pretty well. It does make you upset, though.î
On March 25 at Mars Hill, White didnít start a game for the first time since her freshman year. That was motivation. She pinch hit in the sixth inning and walloped a home run. After that, she was on the lineup card.
iJac got the timely hits,î Whitley said. iLate in the season, she hits a home run off Lenoir-Rhyneís Meredith OíConnor, one of the very best in our league, to give us a lead. Sheís going to be very hard to replace.î
White set school records for durability, fielding and hitting. Some will last a year or two. Others, such as 1,363 career putouts and her 397 putouts in 2007, could stay on the books permanently.
White shares the Catawba record for games played in a season. She started all 60 when the Indians rolled to a 41-19 record in 2007.
She owns career records for games played (211), games started (210), at-bats (655), hits (182), doubles (48) and RBIs (133).
Her junior year, when Catawba enjoyed its most prolific offensive year in school history, she established season records with 17 doubles and 202 at-bats.
As a sophomore, White broke a school record with three doubles in a game against Pfeiffer.
She hit her first homer at any level and only the third grand slam in school history against Armstrong Atlantic when she was a freshman. She tied a school mark with six RBIs that day, but itís since been broken by teammate Allie Marshall.
Whiteís 17 homers, 89 runs, 39 walks and 10-for-10 mark on steal attempts arenít career records, but the numbers illustrate what a well-rounded threat she was.
White said her career iflew by,î and it seems like only yesterday that she was digging throws and hitting doubles for West Rowan teams that won 3A state titles in 2002 and 2003.
iIíve played with Jac and against her,î said Baker, a junior from East Rowan who already has 33 doubles, 100 RBIs and a school-record 24 homers. iThis year Jac was that quiet leader for us, and we all looked to her a lot. Itís going to be weird next year not having her here.î
Whiteís senior year was special, as she was reunited with sister Mackenzie for the first time since 2004.
iIt was just like when I was a senior and she was a freshman in high school,î White said. iWe got along fine, and she did great.î
Mackenzie, a Carson graduate, led Catawba with a .371 batting average, but a knee injury sidelined her for the stretch run.
White has signed a contract with the accounting firm of Dixon Hughes. Sheíll graduate on May 10 and plans to start her new job in Winston-Salem nine days later.
White also plans to attend graduate school in Greensboro, but sheís not ready to say goodbye to athletics.
iIím not going to put my glove down just yet,î she said with a laugh. iIím going to find me an old ladies league somewhere.î
Sheíll be the best first baseman theyíve ever seen.
Contact Mike London at email@example.com.
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