THE GRIND: West Forsyth Softball's Alana FryeKayla Robins/Host
West Forsyth’s Alana Frye hopes her ability to perform at the plate can start trending in the right direction starting this week.
The Lady Wolverines will head to Valdosta this morning to face off with Lowndes in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs. West, which began play in 2007, has never been this far before.
Frye is excited to make the trip, but also admits she can be anxious and tough on herself, because she thinks she can do more in the hitting category.
“You want to do everything you can to help your team, and it’s frustrating when you hit those lulls or feel like you’re not performing as much as you can,” Frye said.
Truth be told, West probably wouldn’t have set a new precedent for the program this season without her. As the catcher for the Lady Wolverines, Frye, in her senior season, has become a centerpiece of the team.
Heading into the season she already had her future figured out. Last summer she committed to Kennesaw State to play collegiately; at the time West was talented, but she said she felt like the team never truly felt like a group.
“I think some of us, especially when we were underclassmen, were kind of intimidated by the older girls,” Frye said. “It’s not been that way this season. We’re like a sisterhood. We tried really hard to all be close friends to each other and bond as much as possible.”
Frye led the way, helping fellow senior Bailley Concatto organize a team sleepover a few weeks into the season, when the team was fighting through a grueling schedule that included Lassiter, Mill Creek (twice), North Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge, Etowah and Brookwood.
“The seniors really wanted to come together and make the entire team feel welcomed,” Frye said. “So we had a sleepover at Bailley’s house, we watched some movies and played some team bonding games. We played kickball at Midway Park.”
Frye admits she wasn’t very good at kickball, but her contribution to the senior-hosted exercises were a flurry of mini-games she learned from an actual team-bonding camp she attended prior with her club team, Team Georgia.
West came together, finishing third in Region 5-7A behind undefeated Lambert and South Forsyth, last year’s defending champion, and broke through by winning two games in a row, on the road, at Brookwood last week. After falling 1-0 in Game 1, the Lady Wolverines responded by winning Game 2, 7-0, and Game 3, 5-0.
Frye thinks the team’s ability to bounce back from game to game is a hallmark of its identity.
“We always stay upbeat, happy, whether we need to scream or sing on the bus,” Frye said. “We don’t get down on ourselves.”
Frye’s personal regiment keeps her from getting down on herself. In fact, she says, she’s so busy she rarely stops and thinks about anything but the next task at hand.
“If I’m actually at home, I’m doing squats in front of the television, getting my legs stronger. I’m always going to the facility to get in extra hitting and catching. I’ll even catch some girls who are there and just help out and get some more reps. Then it’s going to the gym and eating right,” Frye said.
When Frye is working with younger pitchers she’s also summoned constantly about her experiences as a full-time softball player, mentoring aspiring stars about what it took to go from just another softball player to a Division I commit.
“You have to do whatever you can to stand out, and that means out-working the players that aren’t,” Frye said. “I think it’s helpful because I kind of went into the process not knowing a lot about it. You have to send a lot of emails, get on everyone’s good side. I have tons of people ask me and I’m always happy to help out.”
With West, Frye has also become accustomed to mentoring pitchers. She likes the fact that high school pitchers and catchers spend significantly more time together in games, as opposed to the rotation of club ball.
“Hannah (Guthrie) and I have gotten really close,” Frye said of West’s starting pitcher this season. “At first it was just us getting reps back and forth, but now it’s grown and our bond is much stronger. I believe as a catcher that relationship with your pitcher is very important.”
In the end, Frye is completely content with putting the pressure on herself—whether it’s to mold a new pitcher, mentor a hopeful youngster or even spend extra hours in the cage, hoping to increase her batting average.
Her character can be summarized by the answer to one simple question: What she likes most about catching.
“Being in it every single play. Every single pitch,” Frye said.