Abby Potts is often seen but not heard on the softball diamond.
The Pekin senior has been at every game, worked hard at every practice and made every adjustment the coaches asked of her during her four-year-tenure as a Dragon.
Her quiet demeanor — and 5-foot-2 stature — makes her easy to overlook, but the shortstop embodies the program, and is the oil that greases the engine of the team that will play for an IHSA Class 4A regional championship on Saturday.
She doesn’t get overlooked by the Pekin coaching staff or her teammates, she sticks out with her work ethic and non-vocal leadership.
“She must have been a very easy baby, because she is just so pliable,” Pekin head coach Gigi MacIntosh said. “She does whatever we ask of her fundamentally, she’s just easy. She’s been at every practice, every game, everyday, no drama, (she) does what we ask. That’s what you want in a player. We can count on her.”
Potts considers herself a leader in the non-traditional sense. She spares the rah-rah attitude and focuses on maintaining a comfortable environment.
“I just try to keep everybody in a good mood. I try to keep everybody loose and have fun,” Potts said.
The No.2 hitter in the Dragon order is hitting .252 with seven RBIs and 20 runs scored. The senior has struck out just eight times in 117 plate appearances.
In the field, she’s as steady as her work ethic. Potts has committed just 10 errors in 112 tries this season — a .911 fielding percentage.
Perhaps she’s made no bigger catch in her career than a leaping snag in the regional semifinal game against Bradley-Bourbonnais on Wednesday. With a runner on board in the bottom of the seventh inning, Potts leapt as high as she could to snag a hard-hit line drive for the first out of the inning. Immediately, she fired to first base to double-up the runner and clear the bases.
“I just saw it coming and I gave it my best effort,” Potts said.
Assistant coach William Sturm credits Potts’ focus at the plate and continued intensity over seven innings as the reason for her improvement from last season to this season.
At bat-by-at bat she’s more dependable. Potts waits for a pitch she can handle. Over the course of an at bat, she will foul off pitches she doesn’t like, or wait for a pitch she can handle to cross the plate, Sturm said.
Sturm said her battles at the plate are contagious.
“We noticed it (Wednesday), her being a senior, when she started fouling the ball off, we had other people doing it,” Sturm said.
Potts had two at bats in the game where she saw more than seven pitches. In the top of the third, she had an eight-pitch at bat and in the top of the sixth she had a seven-pitch at bat. Each one consisted of multiple foul balls.
“She’s been that person throughout the year,” Sturm said. “She leads by example. She’s here on time and through the last part of the practice, she’s still working and hustling all the time.”
When the senior moved from third base to shortstop — which she plays over the summer — she continued to go to work as usual.
After four years of hard work she finally gets a chance to play for the regional plaque.
“Tears of happiness,” Potts said. “We’ve never won a regional game in the four years that I’ve been here. It was really exciting.”