At home behind the plate: Unaka’s Weaver brings leadership to Lady Rangers

Published 11:03 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Whether she is at the plate or behind it, Unaka senior catcher Katlyn Weaver plays an integral role on the Lady Rangers softball team.
As a catcher, Weaver brings consistency and leadership to the Lady Ranger, said Unaka head coach Kenneth Chambers. Chambers also noted that Weaver, who boasts a .395 batting average and leads the team in RBIs with 18 this season, brings a lot to Unaka’s offensive attack.
“She is a very good catcher for us,” said Chambers. “She is a doing a really good job behind the plate. She has really come on real strong in the second half of the year. She is swinging the bat really good right now. She is always just a really good person to be around, and she is a great leader on our team.”
Weaver’s career on the diamond started when she was five years old knocking balls off tees. Many of the Lady Rangers that Weaver plays alongside today, she played alongside when she a little girl just learning the game, a game she said she learned a lot about from her father, Ron Weaver.
“I grew up with a lot of the girls that I play with now,” said Weaver. ” My dad has been a huge role model in it helping me get into it and playing it. He has really helped me learn it.”
Not only did Weaver’s knowledge of softball start at a young age. Her skills as a catcher also developed in her younger years.
“I started when I was young,” said Weaver. “We didn’t have a hind catcher, so dad just put me back there. In elementary, I moved to third base, but when I got to high school, my freshman year, we didn’t have a catcher, they graduated. Then “Peanut” (Madison Pierce) got hurt my sophomore year, I was supposed to go to third, but I ended stepping in as catcher and just picked it up from there.”
As a catcher, there is a lot a player must juggle, said Weaver.
“I think it is one of the more important parts of a team because you have to be a leader and know where the play is at,” she said. “You have to know your teammates and how they work. You have to also know where the pitches are going to go and what your pitcher is doing wrong. You are the motivator of the team.”
In the world of sports, there are not many relationships as important as the relationship between a pitcher and a catcher. And the bond between Unaka ace pitcher Corie Schuettler and Weaver has been growing for a long time, said Weaver.
“I have been with her (Schuettler) since I was just a little ballplayer,” said Weaver. “We have been playing together forever. It is just a relationship and bond that can’t be broken. You really have to work together. When I played basketball my freshman, sophomore, and junior year, we still had that bond and stuck through it. Where I didn’t play basketball this year, the bond has gotten really really tight.”
In 2017, after winning both the district and regional titles, the Lady Rangers made a trip to the TSSAA Class A softball tournament in Murfreesboro. Weaver said it was something she will not forget anytime soon, if ever.
“Going to state last year was a really big experience,” she said. “It is something that you don’t want to take for granted because you don’t know when your next game will be. You never know if you will get to go back, and it is really fun to go down and experience playing against the teams down there.”
The Lady Rangers have rolled through their Watauga Valley Conference opponents this year and remain undefeated, 8-0, in league play late in the season. A lot of Unaka’s momentum can be attributed to the Lady Rangers ‘focus on making it back to the ‘Boro.
“We are really focused on going back to state,” said Weaver. “We are really missing Sarah Hardin (former pitcher that graduated last season), but I believe we can do it. If Corie stays healthy and all of us stay healthy, then I believe we can go back to state. We know what it’s like, and it’s not going to be a shocking thing to us.”

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