SILVERDALE — Central Kitsap starting catcher Zee Young is not your typical softball player.
Sure she started playing when she was a little kid, competing in recreation and select ball, but she did not play year-round, deciding instead to focus on her academics and play in high school.
The self-driven, self-admitted perfectionist’s intuition was right as she was able to secure herself an offer from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. Turns out her decision to focus on academics paid off.
“I love the school, I love the education system, and the options they have and I like how they put school first and then athletes,” Young said. “I also love the coaches. They are great.”
Young has been on Pacific’s radar since she was a freshman. She has been to multiple camps and gave her verbal commitment at the end of March. Young said the coaching staff at Pacific wants to start its best nine players and if she can win the starting catching spot, she will play. Young would like to major in education and minor in physics.
Young said softball suited her personality because of the team aspect and it helped her character grow.
“I always had fun playing,” she said. “I always liked coming to practice. I like seeing progress.”
To that end, Young meets with a personal coach twice a week and goes to the gym twice a week for strength and conditioning along with team practices.
Central Kitsap coach Courtney Cotter said Young is just a flat-out fantastic kid.
“I’m really happy for her to get a chance to play somewhere else and see how talented she is,” Cotter said.
Young’s career at Central Kitsap did not start well, however. Young had to deal with a thumb injury that prevented her from starting behind the plate, but she eventually worked her way into the role by the end of the regular season. Cotter knew she had a good player and put Young into the lineup — and wherever she could find a spot for her on defense.
“I remember her catching at state, and I mean watching her behind the plate, nobody could have ever guessed she was a freshman,” Cotter said.
Always active on defense — Young also plays shortstop — Cotter quickly learned how versatile and consistent she was in the batting order. It’s been a theme the last four seasons.
Heading into spring break this week, Young was batting .476 had an on-base percentage of .571, and a slugging percentage of .714 in 21 plate appearances. She’s batted in 12 runs and walked six times with no strikeouts.
“She’s fast. She steals bases. She’s smart out there (and) she can play the field. She can hit the ball hard,” Cotter said. “She recognizes the pitches. That’s the benefit of being a catcher. She’s just crushing the ball.”
Young hit a rough patch her sophomore season because she did not see the progress that she had hoped. Young was working with a new hitting coach who had her changing her swing. Couple that with her high standards and Young struggled.
“When I finally did see the progress it was ‘finally,’” she said. “I like to be a perfectionist even though I know this is a sport of failure. I like trying my best. I like trying to be perfect. And if I don’t, I go ‘OK, next time I do this.’”
Cotter said Young’s desire to be perfect on the field is what makes her a great player.
“She is always willing to put in that extra time and work on what she thinks she needs to work on,” she said, “even before I can tell her what to work on. She already knows.”
Just like Young knew focusing on academics would give her the best chance to play college softball.