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WC’s Barnett takes top award

[05/29/01] Whatever Katie Barnett does, she is sure to stand out.

The personable Warren Central junior-to-be stood out as a rare girl baseball player in little league. Then while competing to become Young Miss Vicksburg. Or when she twirled strike after strike as a standout youth bowler.

On the diamond, though, is where Barnett turned the most heads.

The standout catcher led the Lady Vikes to a 12-6 record, hitting a whopping .477 with 19 walks, all while playing arguably the most demanding position on the field.

For her accomplishments, Barnett was selected Vicksburg Post Player of the Year, the second straight year a sophomore has won the award. Vicksburg High pitcher Emily Mathes won the inaugural award last year.

“Katie really is the prime example of what a truly dedicated athlete should be,” WC coach Lucy Young said. “She’s every coach’s dream. She’s the complete package.”

Barnett’s impact on the Lady Vikes, and WC in general, goes far beyond her batting average.

During the summer, fall and spring, softball gets all of her attention. Basketball is sandwiched in between slow- and fast-pitch softball seasons.

Then there’s the non-sports.

Barnett is in Warren Central’s Big Blue Band and so many clubs and organizations, when asked what they were, she shrugged her shoulders, trying to think of them all even after dropping baseball, bowling and pageants.

“I just try to keep it going, all the time,” said Barnett, who meets with coaches often to juggle their schedules to accommodate one another.

Barnett can be seen chatting with umpires between innings, or shouting instructions to teammates, or even groaning after being hit with a pitch.

“I’ve been like that my whole life,” Barnett said. “It relaxes me and gets my mind on the game. It’s a stress reliever.”

At bat, she relieves stress at the expense of a softball.

She had, by far, the highest batting average on a team that hit just .240. She scored 16 runs and also walked 16 times. Her fast-pitch hitting improved dramatically after the first varsity season and another year playing with the Clinton Mystix, an elite traveling team that also features WC pitcher Lauren Anderson, an eighth-grader.

“She’s her own biggest critic,” Young said. “She challenges herself to do better always. She has been a tremendous asset to our program.”

She has been playing fast-pitch since WC started the program two years ago. The Lady Vikes missed the playoffs twice, mostly because perennial powers Madison Central and Clinton are in their division. Only Clinton and Vicksburg will be in the same division next season.

A promising slow-pitch season is also on the horizon. Eight of nine starters are scheduled to return to the Lady Vikes’ team that reached the state’s final four. Barnett is a standout outfielder in slow-pitch.

“I expect us to finish first or second in our division,” Barnett said. “We’re probably going to be one of those teams no one expects to be there.”