Janesville Craig's Gabrielle Cassady stars behind the plate

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Thursday, April 15, 2010
— What lurks behind the mask?

In the case of Gabrielle Cassady, talent galore.

The Janesville Craig High School senior is a standout catcher on the softball team. Cassady earned first-team All-Big Eight Conference recognition the past two seasons and signed a national letter of intent to play at UW-Green Bay next year.

Cassady is off to another solid start this season in helping the Cougars win five straight games after a season-opening loss.

What makes Cassady so special?

She’s the prototypical catcher, according to Craig High coach Dan Bayreuther.

“The biggest compliment I can give Gabrielle, other than she’s simply a very good ballplayer, is that I take her for granted,” Bayreuther said. “I haven’t had to worry about coaching a catcher the last two years, and because she’s gotten so much experience traveling the country playing tournaments in the summer, her knowledge of the game is unbelievable.

“With her skills, catcher is the perfect position. She’s quick behind the plate, has great flexibility from being on the pom-pon squad, and her mechanics are as good as I’ve seen at the high-school level.”

Cassady got introduced to softball playing in a Girl Scouts slowpitch league 10 years ago. The slow pace of the game didn’t interest her as much as the fastpitch version, so she joined a traveling fastpitch league out of Rockford.

Hooked for good, Cassady made a year-round commitment to become good enough to compete at the collegiate level.

Mission accomplished.

As a freshman, Cassady was honorable mention All-Big Eight before putting together back-to-back breakout seasons—both behind and at the plate. She has caught every inning of every game since her freshman season.

Cassady hit better than .350 as a sophomore and .351 last season, leading the team both years in double, triples, home runs and RBI. She had a two-game stretch as a sophomore where she had five triples in seven at-bats.

“I’m a streaky hitter,” Cassady said. “I’m also very competitive, so when I’m not hitting, I tend to get mad at myself.

“But as long as the team is winning, that’s the most important thing. The more I’ve played, the more I’ve learned to forget about mistakes and errors.”

Cassady, the daughter of Tom and Linnea, said her college choice was an easy one. She said the Phoenix showed interest early on and never wavered. Being selected to the All-Big Eight first team two years in a row made Green Bay’s decision to offer Cassady a scholarship a no-brainer.

UW-Green Bay’s starting catcher this season is a senior, and the only other catcher on the roster is a freshman. Cassady hopes that translates into plenty of playing time as a freshman.

“They said there’s a chance I could play some at third or first, but most likely would stay at catcher,” Cassady said. “I just want to go up there and compete for a chance to play, wherever it is.”

Last updated: 1:36 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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