Family ties bind Ladycat softball program
Coach Mary Pettit and her sister Katie Chaplin getting their team to the Kentucky State Tournament was a historic event for the Ladycat program, but both have earlier ties to the program that many have no idea about.
The Carver family supported their daughters and drove many miles to make sure they saw them play. Coach Chaplin said, “Having our family at the games meant everything. The travel that went into them being there was a lot, but they made it work because they love and support us.” Their father Tim Carver served as the coach of the Ladycats and Coach Pettit started off as a player in the Ladycat program as a seventh grader under him and quickly moved into the starting catchers role. Coach Chaplin, who was attending college and playing softball at the time, would come to town on her breaks and help work with the Ladycat players during practices. Coach Chaplin remarked, “ Coming home from Wittenberg I loved to offer any help. Erin (another sister that was also a Ladycat player) and Mary were playing for Dad and I would show them drills we would use and demonstrate them.” Coach Pettit remarked about playing for her dad, “I can remember him running two practices at a time softball on the infield and football in the outfield. Katie and I want to make our father proud and follow in his footsteps.”
Coach Pettit remarked about her early days as a player, “When I played for the team I was a seventh grader playing with juniors and seniors. My sister Erin and Jenna O’hara helped me understand that no matter my age I could take control on and off the field, This has helped me to develop into the coach I am today.”
Starting young is an important aspect to Coach Pettit understanding her team as many of her players are still in middle school. Starting such a young squad and seeing them through the pitfalls and to be successful takes someone with the skill and the same experience to relate what the players are experiencing, “ Starting as a seventh grader myself has allowed me to connect and understand the pressure our young athletes are going through.”
Their father Coach Tim Carver said of Coach Pettit and Chaplin’s accomplishment, “I’m very excited for Mary and Katie. They both love the sport and took over the program when it was in a rough spot. They had their early struggles, but have developed the program around good pitching.” Of course coaching with your sister sometimes can take extra patience, but Katie disagrees saying, “Coaching with my sister was the easiest decision I’ve ever made. Mary is one of the most dedicated, strong, and kind person you will ever meet.” Of Course for Katie not only does she have ties as a sister to the coaching staff, but also as a wife. Coaching with her husband Josh Chaplin she said, It can be testing sometimes, but we both have respect for the outcomes that high school sports can have for students. Being able to look across the field and see him in his element makes me smile.”
She was a quiet player in her days as a Ladycat and worked really hard at developing into a good catcher. Her evolution into a coach started on the field as a player and learning how to be coached. Carver said, “Mary has developed into the leader role and has that confident walk about her.” Coach Pettit has demonstrated that leadership throughout the season as she has guided her young team through districts and knocking off region favorite Bourbon County in the region.
The community really came out and supported the team all season and right on through to the last out in the state tournament. It became normal not being able to find parking spots at home games. Escorts from emergency vehicles on their way to big games in region and state and everybody wanting their own t-shirt to show support. In Lexington not only a large crowd base followed the team, but one that included at least four former Ladycat coaches and numerous former players. Coach Pettit was thankful for all the support and said of it, “The support that the community has shown has been amazing this season. It opened our player’s eyes that people are noticing their hard work.”
Looking forward and speaking about the goals she has for the program Coach Pettit said, “ First as a former player and now coach it was an honor getting to lead this team to state. The program has always held a special place in my heart and I hope we made the school proud. In the future we want to keep the Ladycats as state contenders and moving forward. We will keep working hard and our players will be a year older and wiser next season.”