Alva’s Laney Stewart – Character Counts Presented by K&S Tire

By John Tranchina

As a catcher, Laney Stewart has a unique vantage point to have a major influence on her Alva High School fast-pitch softball team, both in terms of how she manages the pitcher and with her own defensive contributions, not to mention her bat.

Entering her senior year, Stewart is also taking on more of a leadership role and enjoys being viewed as somewhat of a role model by her younger teammates.

“I would say I’m stepping up, it’s kind of like our job as upperclassmen to do that and take the underclassmen under your wing and just show them the ropes and everything,” said Stewart, who also plays basketball at Alva. “I like having to set an example, I like people looking up to me, just because I always looked up to the upperclassmen (when I was younger). It’s a great feeling.”

She also enjoys the responsibilities that come with her position as the starting catcher.

“It’s a lot to have to worry about,” Stewart admitted. “I like probably the most, calling pitches, and strikeouts are amazing – when you’re calling those pitches, you just feel so good about yourself and your ability.”

That aspect of the job also requires developing a bond with the pitcher, another aspect she relishes.

“It is going to be a lot different this year, because our main pitcher graduated,” Stewart said. “We have an upcoming freshman that’s going to pitch for us, so we’re going to have to start over on the bonding stuff. I’m very excited about it.”

Alva coach Megan Stratton considers Stewart a very important player, on and off the field.

“She is the type of kid that doesn’t ask questions, she just does what she’s told and does her best,” Stratton said. “She is always willing to do what’s best for her team. She is an amazing leader in her school and community, a great all around person.”

After the Ladybugs went 8-14 last season and didn’t qualify for the Class 3A playoffs, Stewart has been working on her game in an effort to keep improving.

“I’ve actually been working on my catching a lot, so we’ll see if that gets better this year,” said Stewart, who is also involved with the student council, Key Club and the National Honors Society at Alva. “And my hitting, it’s come a long ways. We actually do ‘Summer Pride’ (off-season workouts this summer), and I’ll do drills there, blocking drills, and framing.”

Overall, Stewart is optimistic for the upcoming season.

“I think we’re going to do very well this year,” she said. “We’ve been bonding a lot more, there’s not any problems, and we’re just going to figure it out when the season starts.”