By LARRY VAUGHT
During her softball coaching career at Kentucky, Rachel Lawson has always seemed to have an outstanding catcher — and does again this year in senior Jenny Schaper, who has started 158 games the previous three seasons. Lawson says it is no coincidence that she’s been blessed to have quality catchers.
“First, I recruit smart catchers. Number one, I look at, this sounds shocking –- but they not only have to be talented, but they also have to have a high GPA,” the Kentucky coach said. “I look at the intangibles.”
That includes some characteristics I am not sure I have heard many Division I coaches ever mention.
“I look at their parents. I see how they speak with their parents. They have to come in smart and mature and then because of that, all that you have to teach them when they come in is the skill set. If they already have the mentality, then they can do that,” Lawson said.
“We put such a high premium on defense. Always. And that’s one of the reasons our offense wasn’t always as strong, early on when we didn’t have the fan base . . . we put such a premium on intelligence. Now we are getting smart players that are incredibly talented and from that standpoint, I think that catching is the cornerstone of our program.
“No matter what they do offensively, that player can handle behind the dish, and fortunately for us, all of our catchers have been good offensive players, so it really just starts with how smart they are.”