Featured photo: Maloney seen here fires the ball from shortstop to get the runner out at first base. Photo credit: Dave Sinclair
By Abee Battiste
This year, the York College softball team has no seniors, and only three juniors with underclassmen filling the remaining 14 roster spots. Even with a young team, head coach Jennifer Petteys sees maturity and understanding with what she desires the program to be.
Petteys said she is blessed with a wealth of young talent. Shortstop Katie Maloney from Aston, Pa. a junior early education major, leads the young Spartan team.
Maloney grew up in a family of five. They all eat, sleep and breathe baseball. She started at the age of 5 playing tee-ball and for the next seven years she played on teams with all boys.
Often, the boys would get jealous when she started the games over them.
Maloney’s mother, Deb Maloney said, “Watching Katie play against the boys made her natural talent very obvious. I love traveling to York to watch her play. She makes me proud.”
“I remember going out in the backyard and having a catch with my older brothers and dad all the time,” Maloney said. “They never took it easy on me, and I think that’s why I’ve been so successful.”
Maloney’s primary and favorite position used to be second base all the way through high school. But when she arrived at York, Petteys had a new spot in mind for her. She became the starting shortstop as a freshman and has remained there. Along with her new position, she took on the role as a junior team captain.
“Having a winning season and seeing each individual on this team learn and grow makes all those tough times worth it as a captain,” Maloney said.
Being a captain for the Spartans isn’t something that Maloney takes lightly.
“I believe that being a captain is a huge honor no matter what year or how young you are, and I am proud of this role,” she said. “To be a leader on such a young team can be challenging at times because I am still pretty new to this program, and I am still learning the ropes for everything.”
Maloney led the Spartans to a number of accomplishments throughout this season. The team earned a victory over CAC champion Christopher Newport, had a noteworthy spring trip to Florida going 6-4, and notched 23 total wins. She earned second team All-Capital Athletic Conference honors just one year after being named the conference’s rookie-of-the-year and second-team All-CAC as a freshman.
Maloney takes pride in having the best-looking softball field in the conference. After every practice and game, the girls on the team as well as the coach’s husband, DJ, fix up the field. Whether raking out the field, putting clay in the pitching mound and batter’s boxes, or sweeping dirt off the grass, everything is done in a meticulous manner. She believes very highly in the direction of the program.
“Coach Petteys has established herself a solid foundation for this program, and her process is working,” Maloney said. “The entire Petteys family has put in so much time and effort for this program to help it become successful, and I believe that it will pay off.”
Maloney is the undisputed leader of the Spartan squad. She hit .360 with 29 runs scored, 16 RBIs, seven doubles, two triples and a home run during her sophomore season. She played in and started all 42 games for the Spartans, as she earned a .472 slugging percentage, a .435 on-base percentage, and nine stolen bases.
Sophomore second-basemen Megan Martin values Maloney next to her on the field. “Whenever a play goes wrong or I have an error, Katie is there to calm me down and help me refocus,” Martin said. The bond these middle infielders share is noticeable on and off the field.
“As a person, Katie is someone that coaches dream of getting into their program. She is self-disciplined, holds herself personally accountable in all facets of her daily life, and possesses a genuine sense of integrity, character and respect,” Petteys said.
Maloney’s foundation of core beliefs and values leads those around her to look up to her for many reasons.
“I can’t wait to see what she is able to do both on and off the field this year to take our program to the next level, which I fully believe she is capable of doing,” Petteys said. “I believe this group of student-athletes I have currently may be the most coachable, most driven and hardest working group collectively that I have ever had the pleasure of leading. Katie stands out with her natural ability.”
The Spartan squad will now wait until preseason starts in January. Maloney will lead the team as they head to Florida in March to start the 40-game regular season.