MANDEVILLE – Don’t let her diminutive stature fool you.
Grace O’Berry is one of the most dominating pitchers in all of the greater New Orleans area.
Heading into her final season at the brand-new Mandeville High softball complex, the senior right-hander looks to help her squad return to the state tournament in Sulphur after making it as a sophomore and being upset by Destrehan last season in the first round.
“I don’t think it’s possible to fully comprehend how fast your prep career goes by until you start your senior season like I have done and you start to realize you are doing everything for the last time,” O’Berry said. “There is no more after this. It gets you to start thinking about how it’s your last chance to leave a legacy with this program that you have worked so hard for. There is no more next season at Mandeville High for me. It’s crazy to think about; it seems like it was just yesterday that we were on the bus heading to Sulphur and the state tournament my sophomore season.
“Change can be scary sometimes, but I have had to remind myself that it doesn’t have to just be a scary thing; it can be an exciting thing. I embrace being able to finish my career at this school and in this program on my own terms. I’m excited about that because this team if it plays to its potential is capable of a state championship. Not a doubt in my mind.”
A signee with the University of Alabama in Huntsville, O’Berry went 15-5 in the circle last season for Mandeville with an impressive 1.48 ERA. In 127 innings of work she allowed only 27 earned runs on 89 hits, striking out 162 and walking only 43.
Despite those impressive numbers, O’Berry said there continues to be many things she can improve in her game not only in the circle, but in her leadership skills on and off the field.
“What I love about this program is how much we protect each other and how close of a bond this team seems to have at all times,” she said. “That is what I want to continue through not only my words, but my actions as well. That is what Mandeville High softball is all about and what it should always be about. This is a family. That’s the legacy I want to leave.
“On the field specifically, I think I can become a more mature pitcher. I think I have gotten better every year, but I have to realize sometimes you have to step back and realize maybe it’s not time to strike someone out. Maybe what we need is a ground ball for a double play. That’s what being a leader is. Be a mature pitcher. I know I have to do that for sure heading into college next year.”
The woman calling the pitches for O’Berry, Mandeville coach Kim Boutwell, said she has run out of ways to describe how important her senior right-hander is for her program.
“What drives Grace I think is that she has yet to win the ‘big game’ yet in the postseason,” Boutwell said. “That maturity of having three postseasons under her belt is only going to benefit her with the experience she needs to go out there and end her career as one of the best ever in the circle at Mandeville High School.”
The Skippers open up the 2020 regular season on the road in a tournament in Walt Disney World beginning on Feb. 23.