Editor's Choice Dr Pepper Hometown Hero

By Chandler Vessels

Ask any of her coaches and they will tell you what a great player and leader Grace Batdorf is.

The outfielder for Putnam City High School has earned a scholarship to the University of South Dakota with her play on the field. But ask Batdorf what has made her final season fun thus far, and – as all leaders do – she talks not about her personal accomplishments, but her teammates.

“[This year] has been really different,” she said. “A lot of our new girls have actually helped us quite a bit. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to do as well as we have so far. Our seniors have stepped it up, too and I feel like I’ve gotten better every year.”

Batdorf said her main goal this final year is to make the state tournament at the end of the season. It’s something she has been trying to do since joining the team as a freshman. Softball has provided her with many memories such as when she hit both her first and second career home runs as a freshman in one game against rival Putnam City North.

But for Batdorf, to play in the state tournament would be the ultimate memory.

“It’s been a long past few years and that’s been our goal every year,” Batdorf said.

In addition to softball, Batdorf is on the Pirates’ swim team. She is also heavily involved in community service. She was a member of the Cleats 4 Kids senior leadership board last summer and also participated in a Positive Tomorrow Christmas Drive for Adults.

When Cleats 4 Kids hosted a camp at the high school field, Batdorf decided to take some donation boxes to her travel ball facility. She was elated after filling nearly four boxes full of cleats and other equipment for kids who struggle to afford it.

She also said the Christmas drive was an experience that caused her to see the world through a different lens. She never realized the large need for things that many people overlook.

“It was eye-opening honestly,” she said. “I didn’t realize how many people needed a lot of things. I think it was when we dropped off all the stuff. There were so many cars there. I saw two semi-trucks full of toys and clothes. Every year my school would always have the Christmas tree fundraiser where you pick kids to buy presents for, but I never understood the extent to what everybody did.”

Batdorf hopes to take these lessons with her to South Dakota, where she will further her playing career while pursuing a degree. She said she fell in love with the school after visiting campus and experiencing the authentic college-town feel that Vermillion, South Dakota, presents. The transition from high school to college will be a challenging one both on and off the field, but Batdorf has already shown she is up for any challenge.

For now, there is still the season at Putnam City and a summer of travel ball to look forward to.

“I really hope my [collegiate] freshman year is going to be pretty big,” she said. “We’ll just see what happens. Hopefully this summer – my last year playing travel ball – will be fun too.”