The D-I Dream

Junior verbally commits to play Division-I softball

Kyle Elmendorf, Staff Writer

The bell rings, signaling the end of seventh hour. While most students rush to their cars to beat the traffic and get home, junior Grace Garcia is just beginning the second part of her day — she is focused on getting to her trainer at Boost Physical Therapy & Sports Performance.

Most days after school, Garcia attends softball workouts and training at Boost. Garcia typically trains six days a week, every week, all year. Additionally, she competes with a club softball team which travels all around the country for both tournaments and college camps.

Pitching the ball, Garcia practices for BV. “High school softball is really fun because it is a little more relaxed than competitive [softball],” Garcia said. Photo by Maggy Crawford.

As well as competing with a club team, she also plays for BV in the spring, where she has been a starting pitcher since freshman year. Garcia has received a Division-I offer to play at the University of South Dakota, where she has verbally committed. Garcia said she first started thinking about college softball in middle school.

“About seventh grade is when we started talking about colleges and recruiting, and then we started going to [college] camps in eighth grade,” Garcia said. “Every weekend we would have a tournament, and then we do league during the week and practice.”

Garcia said she first loved the game at a very young age.

“I have been playing softball since kindergarten; I started out with T-ball,” Garcia said. “I have always loved the game. I spent every weekend at the ball field because of my brothers and sisters.”

Varsity softball coach Amy Berberich said it didn’t take long before she noticed Garcia was a special player.

“I first saw her play in high school, and she became our starting pitcher as a freshman about four games into the season,” Berberich said. “She definitely took command of the pitching, took command of the field and [helped] lead her teammates even though she was a freshman.”

Berberich said although she was ready to compete at the varsity level as a freshman, Garcia continues to work hard and wants to keep getting better regardless of how talented she already is.

“She’s a very hard worker,” Berberich said. “She works a lot on the field, as well as off the field, and she works a lot outside of what we do here in school. She’ll continue to improve, and she’ll continue to work hard in the off-season. At the D-I level they’re going to expect a lot out of her. There’s a very high quality of competition, so she’s going to have to keep working hard, and she will.”

Because she is only a junior, she can not officially sign until next year, but she said she intends to stay committed to the University of South Dakota.

“I was supposed to go on a couple more visits after South Dakota to get offers, but I decided not to because I loved South Dakota. I was just walking around the campus, and I was getting chills — I loved it so much. I love the campus, the coaches, the players [and] everything about it,” Garcia said. “The coach is amazing — he really knows what he is doing. I’m really excited because the program is getting better every year.”

Berberich said she expects Garcia to also have success playing in college.

“She will do great things,” Berberich said. “If you follow South Dakota softball, she will probably be one of the main highlights all of the time. She’ll definitely be one of the leaders on the field as a freshman and all the way to senior year.”