Baldwin native Yauch lands softball scholarship at West Liberty
Katie Yauch of Baldwin has committed to play softball for West Liberty University in West Virginia next fall.
Yauch, a senior catcher at Vincentian Academy, fell in love with West Liberty University and its campus almost immediately, and knew that it was a perfect fit for her.
She is excited to play for the Lady Hilltoppers and their softball coach, Jim Bacca.
Yauch signed an official letter of intent with the college on Nov 14.
The local athlete has drawn raves for her speed and agility both behind the plate and as a hitter.
Yauch received an offer from West Liberty that combines academic and athletic scholarships, and will pay for the majority of her college expenses.
“It was exhilarating to see my signature on the paper,” she said.
Jim Harrison, from Cranberry Township, is Yauch's long-time Junior Olympic AAU softball coach.
According to the Yauch family, Harrison was a key factor in getting Katie successfully recruited.
“His niche is his relationship with all of the colleges. He contacts all of them for you,” said Lisa Yauch, Katie's mother.
Harrison works with the girls on his team to find colleges they would attend regardless of softball, and encourages them to find a coach they really like.
Harrison saw the potential for Yauch at West Liberty University, which is a Division II school.
“The guy from West Liberty was in dire need of a catcher, and Katie fits right into that,” Harrison said.
“From seeing what he has (on the West Liberty softball roster), if she doesn't start (from) Day 1, I'd be shocked.”
The 17-year-old Yauch, who played both softball and tennis during her freshman and sophomore years at Baldwin High School, has much more modest goals for her first collegiate season.
“I'll play wherever they need me,” Yauch said.
The Lady Hilltoppers finished with a WVIAC conference record of 8-16 last season, and were 13-38 overall.
Lisa Yauch is relieved the recruiting process finally is over for her daughter.
“It's like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “Katie was in a lot of things over the years, but she just kept dragging that bat bag around.”
The local resident said she believes parents can introduce their children to many things, but they have to decide for themselves what to pursue.
For Katie, it was clearly softball.
“It was certainly worth all of the hard work,” she said.
Harrison expects Yauch to do well at the college level.
“She's definitely got all the tools,” Harrison said. “She's got natural talent. She's slender and cat-like ... she makes up for her lack of power with her speed.
“And, Katie's very coachable.”
Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.