Storm the latest test for former Trinity pitcherPublished 12:01am Tuesday, March 19, 2013
CLINTON — The lights temporarily blacked out and, for a second, members of the Mississippi College softball team freaked out.
Among them, Trinity Episcopal Day School alumna Katie Steele wondered what in the world was going on.
Steele, a pitcher, and her teammates were in a team meeting Monday afternoon at A.E. Wood Coliseum as a severe thunderstorm brought baseball-sized hail to the campus of Mississippi College,
“We were just going over some things, and all of a sudden, we hear this noise, and we were like, ‘OK, what’s going on?’” Steele said.
Choctaws softball coach Brooke O’Hair said someone must have been doing work on the bleachers above them. But after the lights went off for a split second and startled the team, the ladies decided to investigate. The lights came back on and began flickering, indicating that there was more going on that bleacher work.
“We ran and looked outside, and this huge, baseball-sized hail was coming down hitting the cars,” Steele said. “In the gym, some of the ceiling was on the floor.”
After the storm was over, Steele said she could only be thankful that her car was spared major damage. Some of her teammates weren’t as fortunate.
“A bunch of people on the team had their windshields and speakers busted,” Steele said. “I got very lucky. There had to be a lot of wrecks, because there were sirens everywhere.”
When they’re not trying to stay safe from literal storms, the Choctaws are instead attempting to fight through the metaphorical one that has been their season up to this point. At 3-16 overall, Steele said things have been difficult for the team during the first half of the season.
“It’s been sort of a rough start, but we’ve been playing some very good teams,” she said. “Coach (O’Hair) is just getting us prepared for conference play, because we have the toughest conference in Division III.
“We do have a losing record, but when you look at the teams we’ve played, we’ve played teams that were ranked No. 2 and 13 in the country.”
And Steele said she would prefer it that way.
“If we were playing little nobody teams right now, we’d be in a world of hurt, because our conference is so tough,” Steele said. “I think it’s really preparing us.”
Steele splits time with Bethany Fletcher and Kimmie Conley on the pitching staff. Coming from a Trinity team that had her as the primary starter, Steele said it’s nice having two other girls with which to share the workload.
“It’s nice having other people that can do the same job as me and not have to rely on me to do all the pitching,” she said. “I know they can get the job done just as well (as me) and maybe even better, because we have some extremely talented girls on the team.”
Coming from Trinity, which is all she’s ever known since age 3, Steele admitted it wasn’t easy adjusting to an entirely new setting.
“At first, it was a little scary, because I didn’t know anyone,” she said. “After a little while, we had all gotten to know each other so well. It’s really amazing, because these girls have really become my best friends and my sisters.”
The most difficult part to adjust to, other than the level of competition, was adjusting to college life in general, Steele said.
“You don’t have your parents telling you to do this or that, or when to be home,” Steele said. “You have to be responsible for yourself and do what’s best for your team.”
Even if they aren’t giving her instructions, Steele’s parents, Ken and Pam, still have a presence in her life, as they are able to make every home game and occasionally an away game.
“It’s nice to see a familiar face in the crowd,” Steele said. “They’ve always been there since I was little, so it’s nice to have them still supporting me now.”
Steele is majoring in biology, and she said she hopes to eventually enter the physician’s assistant program at Mississippi College.