After a couple of scheduled signing ceremonies had to be postponed, Cleburne County senior Kaity Zeiders finally got the opportunity to formalize her commitment to play softball at Snead State in Boaz for the next two years.
“I was worried about it,” Zeiders said of the delays, shortly after signing the necessary paperwork to become a member of the Lady Parsons on Feb. 10. “I was like, ‘I’m never going to sign.’ I just wanted all my friends to see me sign.”
Good thing Zeiders made her decision official that Monday. Had the signing been scheduled the next day it would have been postponed again because of another threat of snow and ice.
Zeider’s path to Boaz and Snead State began last summer when Cleburne County head softball coach Ron Ervin and assistant Todd Gable arranged for her to participate in a mid- June tryout at Snead.
One of half a dozen catchers at the tryout, she caught the eye of Snead coach Lisa Bright. Bright told Zeiders that day she had done well and that she particularly liked her strong throwing arm. A few days later, Bright called and offered her a scholarship. After accepting immediately, Zeiders hung up and “screamed” before running upstairs to tell her mother and calling her coaches with the news.
In January, Zeiders got another phone call from Bright. Bright told Zeiders she was leaving Snead because her husband’s job required a move to South Carolina. Bright also assured he that her scholarship offer would be honored by new coach Tracy Grinrod. Grinrod called later to confirm he was expecting Zeiders to be at Snead in the fall.
Grinrod had been an assistant at Wallace-Hanceville for the past nine seasons. Following his hiring at Snead, he said his goals for the softball team were to have a 3.5 GPA, have all sophomores graduate, win 75 percent of the team’s games and advance to postseason play every year. None of that bothered Zeiders, whose goal is to become a teacher and coach.
Ervin thinks Grinrod has signed the kind of player every coach wants.
“She’s a very hard worker. She’s a competitor. She has a lot of pride in her performance. She’s one of those kids that if she doesn’t play well, it bothers her,” Ervin said.
When Zeiders makes a mistake, “It’s going to bother her until she fixes it,” Ervin added.
Her senior year is the third season for Zeiders as the starting catcher for the Tigers. She actually moved up to the varsity from the junior high team during her freshman season but was a third baseman then. With no returning catcher in 2012, Ervin asked for volunteers to try and Zeiders fit the position perfectly.
Catching is, literally, dirty work but Zeiders has a set routine after every practice and every game.
“My mom makes me take off my socks and my (uniform) pants outside the house so none of the dirt gets in,” Zeiders said. “I come in with just my sliding pants and my jersey and I just go straight to the shower. She makes me clean the shower, it’s so dirty. I take about 45-minute showers during softball season.”
Her junior season came to a halt when she broke her ankle sliding into second base during an early- season practice session. The break was so bad it required surgery.
“I cried a lot. I cried every morning. I felt like everyone was depending on me. … I felt like I’d let my team down,” she said of the time she was unable to play.
Zeiders rehabbed herself back onto the softball field in time for the area and regional tournaments.
“Rehab was difficult,” she recalled. “There were times I didn’t want to go. I just wanted to lie in bed and prop my foot up. It was just hard because it hurt.”
While she’s looking forward playing at Snead State, Zeiders is currently much more focused on her senior season with Cleburne County. Along with fellow seniors Toni Epps and Hannah Gossage, she hopes to lead the young Tigers to a state tournament appearance.