St. Joseph's Terrell makes living flying around the bases
March 29, 2013 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated March 28, 2013 at 10:29 p.m.
Paige Terrell can tell just from watching you. One throw back to the pitcher is all she needs to judge a catcher's ability.
Can she take second base before you throw her out from behind the plate?
Usually, the answer is yes.
"When I get on first, I see how the catcher's catching, if she has a strong arm or not," said Terrell, a senior centerfielder for St. Joseph. "On the first or second pitch, I run as fast as I can and usually, I'm there."
Speed is the name of the game for the senior, who has stolen 37 bases this season and only been caught once.
And even that is contested by coach Rudy Diaz.
"We saw that coming a little to late," the coach said. "It was a close play at the San Marcos tournament. I thought she was there."
This goes with the 30 bases Terrell swiped as a junior without getting caught.
It all comes from paying attention to the pitcher and the catcher. She reads the simple interplay of opposing pitchers and catchers like a good book, gleaning all she can from subtle nuances of the game.
Many of those amount to a green light on the basepaths.
"I also watch on the toss back if the pitcher is watching me," Terrell said. "If she's not, that lets me know that I can get a delayed steal off of them."
How often does she catch them not paying attention to her?
"Most of the time," she said with a laugh. "But once they see me stealing, they start catching on."
And there's more: It also determines how to handle herself on the bases.
"If the catcher has a strong arm, that will let me know if I need to slide to the outside," Terrell explained. "I need to get a faster jump off if she has a slower arm."
Terrell has always been the type of can't-miss talent that has excited the St. Joseph coaches. Diaz and former co-coach Craig Lauger knew she was supremely talented coming out of junior high.
Her reputation from playing select softball had preceded her arrival at St. Joseph in 2009. That first year, she played catcher and settled into a spot that would become familiar to her - the leadoff role.
What has grown, Diaz said, is her acumen for the game.
"She's really matured the last two, three years," the coach said. "She's more of a team role model. We knew her talent coming through junior high, but when she stepped in as a freshman, she really benefited and helped the team."
Learning how to be the type of person St. Joseph's often young team looks up to has also come with an aggressive approach to the game. It has lifted her to heights in the Crossroads that Diaz said he has not seen in his seven years of coaching in the Crossroads - particularly when it comes to running the bases.
"I've never heard of that anywhere in this area," he said of Terrell's ability on the bases. "She's well ahead of schedule; I wouldn't be surprised if she hits 50 before we get to the playoffs."
In fact, it's part of the plan.
"Every year, I've been setting a goal," Terrell said, affirming the target number. "I'm sure I'll be able to get there. ... When I go out there, my goal is to get on and score."
At the pace she's going, Terrell might hit that target next week. She's had as many as eight in one game this season, victimizing one opponent twice each time she was on base.
With the Lady Flyers at home for three games next week, including Tuesday evening's game against San Antonio Holy Cross, Terrell will be leading the charge.
"She's really taken control of the team this year," Diaz said. "She's like having an extra coach in the outfield; it's pretty handy to have."
Diaz said he thinks Terrell could take her game to the next level, although according to the senior, that hasn't happened yet.
"She's college material. If they don't pick her up quick, they are going to miss out," he said. "She's going to be dearly missed next year. The younger girls watch her hustle, and they go up to the next level from seeing her."