Becoming a Bulldog
Pomfret native Prebble signs to play softball for Gardner-Webb
It takes a student-athlete who listens to her own intuition, taps into her given talents and remains coachable to make her dreams come true.
That can be said about St. Mary’s Ryken High School senior Katie Prebble, who recently signed her national letter of intent to play softball at NCAA Division I Gardner-Webb University (N.C.), a pri- vate Christian college.
The Bulldogs partic- ipate in the Big South Conference and Prebble said she gives so much credit to her family and her coaches and every- one that’s supported her along the way. She said she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t on a softball diamond.
“Both of my parents played softball and my brother played, so it’s just something I’ve always done.” said Prebble, a Pomfret native. “I’ve been recruited to play outfield and first base.”
Prebble, a four-year var- sity player and now twoyear captain, has rotated around the field, from first base to the pitching circle to outfield.
“I’ll play wherever they need me,” she said of her future college team. “I’m playing outfield now for the travel team I’m on [Perfect Circle]. I’ve been all over the place.”
Prebble said one of the most influential teams she’s played on has been Wagner’s 18-U Gold, who recently name to Softball.
Head coach Wayne Mill- er is a former coach at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The team plays in top-tier trav- el tournaments. This past summer, it qualified and played in the ASA 18-U Gold National Champion- ship in Oklahoma City.
“I give full credit to coach Miller for everything I’ve done,” Prebble said. “He’s completely changed me. Before I was with him, I had no mechanics. I was just a big girl and that’s all I was but with him, all of my mechanics changed. I actually stopped pitching because I had back injuries and focusing on pitching took me away from working on other skills. He definitely made me an infield/outfield player. He presented me with many opportunities and all of the schools that I got offers from, it was all because of him.”
Miller said, “Gardner-Webb got a great athlete and a beautiful young lady. Coaching Katie and watching her excel has been worth the time in- vested.”
Prebble said she decided on Gardner-Webb because it lines up with her religious beliefs, it had the nursing program that she was looking for and she enjoyed meeting the softball coaches and the members of the team. She made her official visit in October.
“I’ve known that I’ve wanted to go into nursing for a few years now and that’s why it was so hard to find a school that would let me while play- ing softball,” Prebble said. “I remember Appalachian changed Perfect their Circle offered me my freshman year, but they laid out a list of majors that I couldn’t study and I was afraid to go somewhere just for softball, so I was really lucky to find Gardner-Webb and the coach said I could study nursing. It may be hard, but I could do it, so he fully supports me majoring in nursing.”
Prebble has ambitions of becoming a nurse practitioner.
“During my official visit I was able to meet with all of the academic advisors and even got to stay with the girls in their suite. Every- body’s really, really close there. It’s a smaller campus. You’re never going to walk by someone and not say hello to them. Ev- erybody’s really nice. I like the area. Charlotte is about an hour away so there’s always an opportunity to find something fun to do.”
Prebble said having a Baptist community there is an added bonus for her.
“It’s kind of everything I’ve been looking for and seemed silly to turn down the offer at that time,” she said.
Prebble, a four-year starter at St. Mary’s Ryken for both softball and soc- cer, recently awarded the team MVP award for soc- cer, has one more year with the Knights and she said she’s excited about the season. The Knights have had a 68-8 record in Prebble’s high school career with back-to-back Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles in 2014 and 2015.
St. Mary’s Ryken head softball coach Jim Sewell said he first saw Prebble play at a tournament on a 12-and-Under travel team and knew she had natural talent.
“There she pitched and played first base and even then she had a very good bat with discipline and power,” Sewell said. “At high school tryouts her advanced fielding and hit- ting skills were evident. Each year I noticed only a few outstanding players who offer mature softball skills and really embraced learning the sport and worked to develop their skills and Katie is one of those players.”
Prebble finished her freshman season with a .366 batting average with 34 hits, 19 RBIs and 26 runs scored and assisted the Knights to their first WCAC softball champion- ship title, making school history as the very first girls team at the school to win a WCAC title.
Prebble also made a name for herself in the pitching circle that year with an ERA of 0.42 with four wins and was awarded with the Knights’ most promising award and was honored to the All-WCAC and All-County teams.
Prebble continued to improve her batting aver- age to a .460 in her sophomore season with 40 hits, 22 RBIs and 33 runs scored. St. Mary’s Ryken won its second consec- utive WCAC title with a 1-0 victory over Bishop O’Connell (Va.) and Prebble was selected to the All-WCAC and All-Coun- ty teams once again. She also received the Ryken award.
As a junior captain, Prebble led the state with a 1.042 slugging percent- age and led the WCAC in six offensive categories, including batting average and triples.
She hit .543, with 38 hits, 42 RBIs, six home runs and 32 runs scored and was selected to the All-Met, All-WCAC and All-County first teams while also earning the SMR coaches award.
Prebble said her father Joe has always been a strong influence over her softball career, work- ing with her offensive skills and teaching her at a young age to develop skills to play each position.
“Katie has always had a tremendous work ethic, and every success she’s had has only driven her to get better,” Joe Prebble said. “She’s learning how to work pitchers, and her pitch selection has improved as well. To have four or five strikeouts in 80 or so plate appearances for a season is pretty special, especially for a power hitter. She’s been blessed with a lot of physical gifts, including her strength and speed. She understands that the extra work she puts in is what’s driven her success and we expect she’ll continue that as she moves on to play in college.”
Sara Prebble, Katie’s mother, said she’s very proud of the college that her daughter chose.
“Her work ethic and character has earned Katie a four-year scholarship,” she said, “and to have it be from a school like Gardner-Webb makes it even more special. We couldn’t be more proud. This is something she’s dreamed of for a long time.”