It would be hard — almost impossible — to argue against Katie White’s passion for softball.
One would only need to look to see what she did last week to prove her love of the game.
As a member of the Hollywood team — an elite prep softball team based out of Annandale, Minn., not California — White played in seven games in the USSSA 18-and-under Nationals July 25-28 in Rockford, Ill.
“It was probably the best experience of my life,” said White on her way home from passing her driver’s license test. (Her mother was driving).
“I was so happy I went there because it was great to see other teams from all over. There was only four teams from Minnesota out of the 32 that were there. The heat was a little different. It was much hotter, like 105 degrees.”
White’s Hollywood team played three pool games and then advanced to bracket play where it captured fifth place.
The 16 year old pitched in three and half games and then played first base, second place and the outfield.
“(The level of play) was a big difference,” said White. “I felt like all the other girls had a lot more experience than I did because they were so much older than I am. I got a little bit used to it while playing in our league games on Mondays, but the competition was still a little bit harder.”
After each tournament game, both teams exchange an MVP honor to a player from the other team. White was awarded one of those MVP awards.
The final game of the national tournament was played at 5 p.m. Saturday. That’s when a decision had to be made — drive all night to Monticello to help the Pequot Lakes 16U team win the Class D ASA/MMFL state tournament or just call it a weekend.
The drive began at 3 a.m. so White’s dad could get some sleep before the trek. A stop in Austin, Minn., to pick up White’s brother and the family made it to Monticello with 10 minutes to spare. A few warm-up pitches later, and White was back on the mound.
What awaited her was five games on July 29 and she pitched all five. White won all five to help Pequot win the state title.
“It actually didn’t really hit me until on the way home,” said White. “I was going off of adrenaline. I was going off of two or three hours of sleep. I don’t know how I did it. I just played my heart out. We all did.”
White played her share of softball this summer. She played two games every Monday and Wednesday. She competed in three tournaments with an average of five games in each tournament. Throw in last week’s 12 games and White got her share of game time. But at what cost?
“At first it was really hard going every Monday and Wednesday because I could have been out on the lake and playing with my friends,” she said. “But now that I think about it, it was totally worth it. Going to nationals was so fun and such a great experience. I don’t regret anything.”
Another by-product of White’s hard work will be on display next spring, when the already dominant pitcher takes the mound again for the Patriots.
Last season, White was 16-1 with a 0.64 ERA. In 98 innings pitched she allowed 51 hits, nine earned runs and 19 walks. She struck out 108. Offensively, she was the team’s top every day hitter. She hit .603 with 38 hits, 11 doubles, two triples and three home runs. She drove in 21 runs and scored 32 times herself. She even had 14 stolen bases.
“I think I definitely improved this summer,” White said. “I’ve learned how to throw different pitches and move it around. I learned how to be a leader by watching the older girls and how they lead the team. When I came back for those five games I feel like I really got the team going and I had a high energy level.
“I’m happy with how I pitched last year, but I feel we can be even better next year as a team. I think we can be way better. The way we came together as a team on Sunday, in that heat, I think we’ll be really good next year.”