Catching fire:

Former Grafton High School star Amanda Parsons named Division 2 second-team All-American at Concordia University St. Paul
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Amanda Parsons debated returning for her fifth year as starting catcher at Concordia University St. Paul.

The former Grafton High School star and North Shore Conference Player of the Year longed for a more normal season after regularly being tested for Covid-19 the year before.

She came back, but this season was anything but normal.

The testing and last-second questions about if she or her teammates would play were gone, but Parsons wasn’t herself at the plate.

She was 131 points better than her best season in the four years prior.

Parsons hit .452 with an on-base percantage of .508 ­— both school records — along with three home runs, a career-high 35 RBI and a slugging percentage of .632.

Her bat, along with a fierce competitive savvy in calling games for all the Golden Bears’ pitchers, helped her earn Division 2 second-team All-American honors.

Parsons chalked up her hitting prowess to a couple of elements. Having the perspective of a fifth-year senior and coming back from a season in which she didn’t know if she would play game to game were two big factors.

Another was that she was having fun again.

“I definitely took a different approach and just played like I did when I was a kid. I took it as seriously as I always do, but I knew I was lucky I was in the position that I was,” she said.

Offense isn’t even her favorite part of the game.

“I like the strategy on defense,” she said.

Throwing out and picking off runners is a thrill for Parsons and her teammates.

“When someone’s on base for me, I want them to run. That’s a potential out we can get,” she said.

“It can get you out of some interesting situations. I’ve found that it’s a great way to pump the team up.”

Coach Bob Bartel, who has been with the program since 1997, said he knew Parsons could be a good starting catcher after she earned the starting spot halfway through her freshman season, but he never saw this coming at what he calls the second-most important position on the field behind the pitcher.

“We’ve had really good catchers, but if I had to put up a list position by position she would definitely be the top at catcher,” he said.

Parsons and Bartel credit hitting coach Rick Pickett, who joined the staff in 2019, for helping Parsons become the hitter she did.

“He was trying to improve what I am. Others try to change you; he wanted to find what is me and make it as successful as possible,” Parsons said.

Whether she is behind the plate or standing next to it, Parsons likes changeups.

On defense, “I think it’s really important to catch your batter off guard,” she said.

When hitting, “I don’t know why but I can always wait on the changeup.”

Bartel said Parsons led by her actions as much as with her vocal cords.

“She’s just so fun to watch because she’s so into the games. She puts all of herself into every game,” Bartel said.

Parsons got into softball through her family. Her father Scott was the ticket operations manager for the Milwaukee Brewers for nine years, and her older brother played baseball. She caught for her twin sister Ally at Grafton High.

After five years playing perhaps the most physically punishing position in softball, Parsons said her knees are still OK.

She kept in shape off the field and in the offseason, but acknowledged she was “very lucky” when it came to avoiding injuries beyond the usual midseason soreness, aches and pains.

In class, Bartel boasted that Parsons maintained a 4.0 grade-point average while working on a master’s degree, playing softball and working.

“Playing a sport makes it easier because you don’t have time to procrastinate,” Parsons said. “Having the balance of softball definitely taught me to get my work done.”

Parsons earned a business degree and is a project assistant for Viking Electric in the Twin Cities. The job, she said, reminds her of softball because she is on a team that works to solve issues.

She doesn’t play in any recreation leagues yet, but said she plans on joining a team sometime.

She hasn’t entirely left Concordia St. Paul, either. Last week, Parsons agreed to join the team as a volunteer coach.

Bartel said she will be able to help the new starting catcher grow in her role.

“We’re excited to keep her around,” he said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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