Senior Catherine Jensen didn’t begin her softball career as a pitcher until her freshman year. Even with this late start, in November of 2017, Catherine’s talent and hard work secured her a spot on a Division I college softball team at the University of Dayton in Ohio.
“I’d say my biggest strength is probably my drive and willingness to work hard. Even though I started so late, I was able to play at a high level when I got at the recruiting side of softball,” Catherine said.
Initially in Jensen’s freshman year, she was encouraged by her high school coach to become a pitcher. That season, as a pitcher, she wasn’t yet aware of her talents. It wasn’t until her sophomore year when a pitching coach at the University of California, Berkeley told Jensen that she had natural talent and a future in softball.
This was a wake up call for Catherine. She saw her talent as an opportunity and decided to work even harder, so she began to train extensively. Jensen has two to three pitching lessons per week and also practices five times a week throughout the entire year.
Catherine loves the power that she holds as a pitcher, being able to dictate the game based on the decisions her and the catcher make.
“I like being involved in every play. I have control of every play and have control of every pitch. It’s just so different than every other position, because you get to know the outcome of every play before everyone else,” Catherine said.
Throughout all of Catherine’s training, she acknowledges that she wouldn’t be this successful without the largest influence and motivator in her life: her father, Kurt Jensen.
“He’s also been my biggest inspiration because of how hard he’s worked. He built his own company, and I think going through that you can kind of compare that to building yourself. He just knows me really well and has been one of my biggest supporters,” Catherine said.
Catherine described the relationship that she has with her father as “pitcher-catcher,” in the sense that he pushes her, but no matter what, he will always be there for her.
“He always says we aren’t friends until you’re out of my house. He’s definitely the person who is pushing me,” Catherine said.
As both a father and role model, Kurt explained how important it has been for him to ensure that Catherine plays for herself, not him.
“My job as her father is to push her, but to push her in a good way so that I’m not letting her think that it’s my dream. So that’s a fine line. I think she’s done a good job of checking in and making sure that it’s still something that she wants to do rather than something that I hope she does,” Kurt said.
Kurt believes Catherine has maintained a steady balance between juggling her softball career, education, and social life in high school. Kurt’s advice to her in the future would be to continue the strong work ethic she has solidified going into college.
“If you work really really hard there’s no promises but you certainly put yourself in a better position to succeed,” Kurt said.
Aside from the impact that Catherine’s father has had on her career thus far, Catherine’s teammates have also impacted her long-lasting commitment and enjoyment of the sport overall. The genuine friendships that Catherine has made on both her travel team, a serious club softball team that travels for tournaments during the offseason for Redwood softball, and the Redwood varsity team has made the sport much more enjoyable for her.
Catherine’s best friend and teammate, senior Annie Connors, described the great bond that they have while they’re playing on the field together.
“[I’m] playing with one of my best friends and one of the best teammates because she really leads the team with her confidence and her kindness towards everyone. She helps out everyone with the most respect that I’ve seen in a player,” Connors said.
A challenge that Catherine foresees in the not-so distant future is the age difference and competition level that she will have to face being on a college team.
“I think one thing that will be very challenging is competing with girls that are up to 21 and 22 years old. I think competing for a spot is probably going to be the hardest thing, especially as a freshman,” Catherine said.
As Catherine prepares for her upcoming softball career at the University of Dayton, she has felt pressure to perform well.
“I’m more nervous than scared. I think the only reason I’m scared is just because I’ve worked so hard for it and I want to be successful once I get there,” Catherine said.