Twenty-two times this season, Toll Gate senior Pattie Turner stepped up to the plate only to see the catcher stand up behind her and signal for an intentional walk.
It was frustrating. But it was also the ultimate sign of respect.
And it makes sense, given Turner’s track record. A four-year starter at catcher, Turner became one of the most feared hitters in the state during her first three seasons. In season four, teams simply decided that they weren’t going to let Toll Gate’s top hitter take them down.
“She’s definitely well-respected around the state,” Toll Gate head coach Shana O’Connor said. “The teams know that she is a big threat when she comes up to the plate. She has proven herself time and time again.”
When given a chance this year, she continued to prove herself, as she hit close to .500 and was constantly on the basepaths – whether it be by walk or hit.
She also adjusted to the way she was being treated at the plate.
“My coach would tell me to get up there ready to swing,” Turner said. “Even when I knew when they were walking me, I was always ready to hit, but I usually just took the walk.”
Early in the season, in a 0-0 game with Warwick Vets, Turner was intentionally walked with the bases loaded, bringing in a run to make the score 1-0. That ended up being the winning margin.
It wasn’t the standard method Turner had used to drive in runs during her first three seasons, but it helped her team get the win.
“The pressure that’s put up on her when she goes up to the plate, not knowing whether she’s going to have the opportunity to hit or not, can be very frustrating as a player,” O’Connor said. “For her to work through that shows the kind of ballplayer that she is.”
And at the end of the day, Toll Gate had its deepest playoff run in the four seasons that Turner has been on the field. The Titans were one of the final three teams remaining in the postseason in Division I.
That made it a senior year to remember for Turner, even if some of the memories will revolve around four straight balls and a trip to first base.
“I think I’m going to remember it knowing mostly that I started so young, and I think I had a lot to learn and my coach helped me learn a lot,” Turner said. “My mental stability grew a lot by playing. I was able to get strong as a person and player too. I really have my coach to thank for that.”
Tuner will be playing softball at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., next spring.