By Grady Steele
"I didn't really realize what a big deal it was."
Surprisingly modest words from Eastside High alum Catherine Lee, especially after coming off one of the most prolific single-season performances in history at Georgia State and the Colonial Athletic Association.
Lee, a multi-sport standout from Covington, led the CAA in home runs, RBIs, runs scored and finished the season with an unprecedented slugging percentage (.810).
As a Panther, she also put her defensive prowess on display, leading the league in throwing out would-be base stealers.
Based on her stupendous play, Lee was named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team in May.
"I was just playing ball, doing what I like to do," Lee said of her freshman campaign.
Her brand of softball was certainly appreciated by her teammates, whom she led in a valiant effort at the CAA championships before falling to Towson (Md.) during the quarterfinals.
As any serious athlete knows, there is no offseason for collegiate players, and Lee certainly isn't lounging on her futon watching "Saved by the Bell" reruns.
"I've been playing some travel ball to stay with it," Lee said, who recently returned from Pennsylvania with the Xtreme Mavericks softball team, a squad based out of Atlanta.
Lee has also competed in tournaments with the Mavericks in Houston, Texas and Auburn, Ala., citing that offseason conditioning as an important component to her game.
"I try to run at least two miles every other day," she admitted. "(This month), I will try to start focusing more on my agility."
In addition, Lee frequently returns to Eastside for weight training.
With a year of college softball under her belt, she plans to step into more of a leadership role as younger players move into the roster.
"A lot of girls ask me what to expect," she said, "and I just tell them not to worry. I tell them they are all good players - they know what to do, they just have to do it a lot more now."
Despite speaking like a seasoned veteran, the local star admits the transition from high school to college can be difficult.
"It can be mentally strenuous; you really have to learn (how) to manage your time between school, staying in shape and your social life."
On the academic front, Lee is looking to major in international business, with a minor in French. She finished her spring semester with an impressive 3.79 grade point average. (Merveilleux!)
Lee will begin conditioning and practicing with her team in the fall.
However, for now Panther fans will just have to wait until February for her next Albert Pujols impersonation.