Monday, February 6, 2023

George makes most of weather delays

Independence shortstop Katie George was looking forward to the start of her senior season, she just didn't realize how long she'd have to wait in between games No 2 and 3.

The Blue Devils opened the year with a loss to North Royalton on March 29 but bounced back with a 14-8 win over Brooklyn the next day. Thanks to the split personality of Mother Nature, George and her teammates have gone eight days since their last game and an unfavorable weather forecast likely will extend that streak at least several more days.

“It has been rough waiting to play, but we can't control the weather,” George said. “My focus just has not to get in my head and keep working to see if there are little things that we can improve to make sure we are really ready. We squeezed in two games last week so I hope the weather starts to cooperate, I can't wait to get back out on the field.”

George, one of three Independence seniors and a two-time all-Chagrin Valley Conference selection, is working hard to maintain a positive attitude throughout the long days of practice waiting to play again.

“My role is something that I am still learning the ins and outs of,” she said. “It's my job to be a leader, keep our team together and focused, and set an example for the younger girls. It is definitely about the bigger picture because I have to make sure everybody else is doing well before I worry about myself.”

A four-year starter, George has experienced unprecedented success with the Blue Devils. The team reached the district championship game in her freshman and junior seasons and in 2014 the Blue Devils lost to Akron Manchester, 2-1, in the Division III Massillon regional championship game.

This season, Steve Ambrose took over for Garry Moore and many new names and faces fill Independence's roster.

George is approaching her final season with realistic goals and expectations.

“My motto is, ‘Low expectations and high hopes,’” she said. “I didn't want to expect anything because we are such a new team. My personal goal was to get a feel for how everybody plays so I can work on leading in a positive way, which I am still working on. Team-wise, I wanted us to work on making minimal mental errors and just shaking it off if we make physical errors. Once we started jelling together in the games we were trying to meet this goal, but sometimes the ball just doesn't go your way. It's early in the season and we're practicing hard so I'm sure we will find our way.”

She certainly has found her own way.

George began her career as a quiet, unassuming freshman and now she has embraced her role as a team leader.

“It is such a change of dynamic, but I love it,” she said. “I went from barely talking as a freshman to having to be the most vocal person on the team. I hope every day that what I'm doing will show other people what it's like in hopes that they will get to do it as they move up the ladder. I can't believe that it is all going to be over soon.”

George plans to attend the University of Akron’s Honors College next fall with a major in mechanical engineering so her days as a competitive softball player are numbered.

“The past two years, I've been going back and forth of whether to try and play in college,” she said. “I had options to play at (Division II) and (Division III) schools, but at the end of the day I am going to college to become an engineer. Akron had the best programs for me and I would rather be a great engineer and study a lot than be a mediocre engineer and try to juggle softball in the mix. I love the game of softball and I hope to maybe play it as an intramural sport. Regardless, it will always be part of my life because I hope to become a coach someday.”

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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