Penn Charter grad calling a gem

Grace Stansfield will continue her softball career at Rider University.

Grace Stansfield has always had the ability.

But it’s her feel for the game that makes her such a special softball player.

Stansfield recently graduated from the Penn Charter School and is headed to Rider University, where she will continue her softball career.

And she certainly excelled, earning All-Inter-Ac honors in her final three years and helping the Quakers win the league championship during her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons.

She swung a good bat and used her strong arm to make a huge difference behind the dish for Penn Charter, but the best thing she brought to the team could have been her ability to control the game.

That’s something she’s been doing since she started playing catcher for the Quakers.

“I love calling the game, my coach let me do that almost right away,” said Stansfield, who plays for the Nightmare, a local travel softball team that has players throughout the Philadelphia area. “I love getting the feel for it. I try to focus on the hitter and then I try to go with my pitchers’ strength. We used a lot of pitchers this year, so it was a lot of fun because I had to work with them and come up with a plan. My coach would give me a scouting report and I’d just use that.

“I started calling games for the Nightmare before I started doing it in high school. I became comfortable right away. You just focus on the batter and go from there. You learn what they’re good at and then call something else.”

Stansfield showed Rider enough to earn a chance to play there in college. And she doesn’t have to wait long. She’s already on the fall ball roster and will be playing with her new teammates later this month.

Stansfield grew up playing basketball and softball at Calvary Athletic Association but decided to give up basketball to focus on her main sport before she got to high school.

For her, having such a successful career made it well worth it. And she’s not talking about the great things she accomplished as an individual.

“We had a really great time when I was in high school,” Stansfield said. “We won the championship three times and we made it every year. It was great that I was able to start right away. I played third base when I was a freshman and then moved to catcher.

“We had really good teams. We had good pitchers, we had good coaching and we had some good hitters. I think we did really well every year.”

Her high school career was great, but it did have a bump along the way.

During her junior year, she developed a tumor on her thyroid and was forced to undergo surgery to remove it. The recovery wiped out a week of softball season, but once she recovered, she felt much better and was ready to play.

“I was sick a lot my junior year and then they found the tumor,” Stansfield said. “It was more nerve wracking than anything. I never expected anything like that . But after the surgery, I felt 100 percent better and now I feel great.”

But that’s not to say the surgery doesn’t have a lasting impression on her.

Next year, she plans on studying health sciences at Rider.

And while she’s always wanted a career where she could help people, being in the hospital helped lead her in that direction.

“I’m going to major in health sciences and then do an accelerated nursing course,” Stansfield said. “I really want to help people, but the nurses helped me a lot when I was in the hospital. They made me feel better, so I thought that would be a good thing to do. I also like science. I know it’s hard, but it looks like a great (fit).”

But she’s also looking forward to getting back to playing scholastic softball.

Last year at Penn Charter, she led the team with 13 stolen bases while driving in 28 runs. She also hit better than .500 and blasted four home runs.

Those numbers are good, but Stansfield knows she’ll have to prove herself all over again when she starts playing at Rider.

She’s ready to do whatever it takes.

“I like playing catcher, but I’ll play wherever I can get time,” Stansfield said. “If they ask me to play somewhere else to get playing time, I’ll do it. I’ll do whatever I can to help and to play.

“I guess as a freshman, I’ll just do my best to play and see if I can help out. I’ll work on everything to try to make myself a better player and try to help the team and try to adjust and get acclimated to playing college softball and my classes.”