|Gibby anchors infield and lineup|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
April 8, 2004 -- With the 13th-highest GPA in the SSHS senior class, Savana Gibby made an A last six weeks in AP Calculus. With that kind of mathematical intellect, she had to know the odds of the Lady Cats going 40-0 in district play was tough.
But, it didn't make it any easier when the first loss came.
"I hate it. I hate it," she said of the 5-2 loss to McKinney North that ended the Lady Cats' 33-game district win streak . "We can't say we're 30-something-and-0 anymore. It was tough losing that game. It was hard, but the pressure's off now and we've just got to play.
"I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to go 40-0. I know I did because 40-0, gosh, that was so big. That game, we played real tense. I know I felt real nervous, real tense. Now, we can step back and play."
Gibby has stepped up her play since district began.
Through the first round of 11-4A play, she is batting a hot .400 (6-for-15) with four runs batted in and two walks in five games. She has struck out just three times in 18 plate appearances, all against winless Greenville.
It was that game, she said, that refocused her on pitch selection.
"I am feeling comfortable at the plate now," she said. "I didn't do so well at the Greenville game. Ever since that game, I've really concentrated on watching the ball and swinging at good balls, not swinging at bad ones. I've focused on looking for my pitch, not the pitch the pitcher wants me to hit."
It's that approach that has landed Gibby with a softball scholarship to Texarkana College, which she inked in the winter.
She has been a three-year starter at shortstop, earning district Offensive MVP honors her sophomore year and First Team All-District honors her junior season. She has been a mainstay in the middle of the infield and the middle of the lineup for coach John McCullough.
"She's been our starting shortstop since she was a sophomore and a key hitter," McCullough remarked. "I told her that being in the cleanup role, she's not going to get very good pitches to hit because they're going to try to keep the ball away from her and make her swing at bad pitches. She's doing a real good job of laying off pitcher's pitches and making them throw the ball in.
"She's also doing a great job of shortstop. She's worked hard on getting to the ball hit up the middle and the ball in the hole. She's been working on that since she was a sophomore of taking angles and getting to the ball."
Deducing angles should be a cinch for Savana, who lists physics and calculus as her favorite subjects. She will likely stay in that field after college, becoming a nurse or pharmacist.
She takes on the duty of comforter and encourager with a passion.
"I try to be a leader, encourage my teammates and keep them up when they have a bad game," Gibby explained. "I have bad games too, and I want everybody else to be there for me and pick me up. I just try to be there for everybody, because when you're not doing too well you want to have somebody there pulling for you."
One of those pulling for her is younger sister, Tara, a sophomore shortstop who was moved to varsity following the JV season finale on Tuesday and will back-up Savana. If Tara continues at shortstop next year, it could be five years before someone other than a girl named Gibby has played there.
The pair played together on varsity volleyball this season, also.
"We're real close," Savana said. "We're right at a year-and-a-half apart. We're a lot different, but we're still real close."
Even down to them both playing the same position. But right now, the older sister is the starter.
"Having a three-year starter there in the middle of the infield is very important for us," said Coach McCullough. "Being a senior and a three-year starter, it's kind of an added role of leadership. Her presence, just being on the field, is an added boost for us."