A fresh face has stepped into the spotlight for the Georgia State softball team this spring. That face comes in the form of 5-foot-8, Carlton, Georgia native catcher Ivie Drake.
Drake admits that she didn’t see herself being such a big part of the Panthers’ batting attack this season. In fact, she did not even think she would be on the field much as a freshman.
“At the beginning, I thought, yeah they were going to put me in here and there. But there are two catchers that are both older than me, and they’re really good,” she said. “So I was like, well, I get some playing time here and there. That first game [head coach Roger Kincaid] put me in against Auburn, and I was just like, all right well.”
And play she did. The Panthers fell to the then 17th-ranked Auburn Tigers 20-8, but a star was born as Drake’s career jumpstarted with two hits, scoring a run and drawing a walk in her debut. As a result, Drake has started every game this season for the Panthers.
She leads the Panthers in batting average at .472 in her 48 games this season. Drake also tied for the team lead in home runs currently with 17, also leading the team in runs batted with 58.
Drake’s production has been welcomed though it may have come as a surprise that it has come so soon. She went from an unknown freshman to a catalyst for a solid team. A team looking to make a postseason push.
Drake, though, a young player, has been rock solid for the Panthers and looks to be for the next three years. She said she is not much different from a player now as she was in high school.
There wasn’t any magical preparation that allowed her to come in and flourish. She simply kept things simple and refined her technique in the summer.
“I didn’t really change…anything over the summer coming into college. I hit [the ball] with my dad a lot. Even if I wasn’t going into college, I…[play] with my dad all the time, I throw with him all the time,” Drake said.
By Drake simply taking the game more seriously and the challenge of tougher competitions, it’s aided in a smooth transition from high school to college.
“In high school we didn’t really have a lot of competition. I was serious about it. But I wasn’t worried when we played and I just kind of played and had fun,” Drake said. “Now in college I feel like it’s more serious. It’s just a lot more serious. I take it more seriously. It’s a lot harder competition.”
She played four years at Madison County High School in Danielsville, Georgia. Drake won three Class 4A Regional Championships and was a three-time All-Area and All–State selection and named the Athens Banner Herald’s Softball Player of the Year last season.
Drake’s loud bat has not translated into her becoming a vocally loud leader just yet. The Panthers will soon look for her next progression and development. Right now, Drake just lets the upperclassmen handle the talking as she observes and learns.
“I’m not vocal at all. I leave that to the seniors and the juniors. I feel like I should be more vocal. But I don’t feel like it’s my spot necessarily right now,” she said.
Drake acknowledges that the role of vocal leader has to be earned, and there is a progression that comes with earning that role along with becoming more comfortable with the culture of the team. Drake is no stranger to that role as she can remember going through it in high school.
“I can see myself being more vocal next year. Like, in high school I did the same thing. [As a] freshman, I was, like, the young one and I didn’t do anything,” she said. “And years after that it kind of started to come together. I’m not nervous, I’m more comfortable. So, I feel like after this year I will be more vocal.”
Her freshman season is quickly coming to an end with only seven games remaining in Georgia State’s regular season.