Three years ago, Damascus High School softball coach Steve Kachadorian took a chance on a quiet freshman named Anna Warfield that he had only recently moved up from junior varsity. The Swarmin' Hornets were trailing rival Sherwood, 8-4, with two outs in the sixth inning when he threw Warfield into the proverbial fire.
“I put Anna in as a pinch hitter and she came up and battled off [2013 Gazette Player of the Year Meggie Dejter]. It was an extended at bat and she ended up getting a base hit up the middle,” Kachadorian said. “Then Cassie Clayborne came up and hit a two-run home run and we came back to win it in the seventh inning. That whole comeback began with Anna's at bat.”
Warfield's remarkable poise, especially for a freshman, in such a pivotal moment immediately caught Kachadorian's attention and set the tone for a prosperous varsity tenure. Warfield recently signed her letter of intent to play softball at NCAA Division II Shippensburg (Pa.) University in 2014-15.
“[Warfield] showed a lot of focus, that was a big moment and from that point on I knew she would be a big member of our varsity program,” Kachadorian said.
The defining moment, Kachadorian added, was an early sign that Warfield is not easily fazed by the magnitude of any given situation. She does not shy away from big moments and is unafraid of being in a central position.
Those qualities, which have also helped her handle the starting point guard position for the Swarmin' Hornets girls' basketball team, coupled with her high softball IQ and overall versatility on the diamond helped Warfield land the role of starting catcher by her sophomore year. Propelled by incredible foot speed, Warfield is also an excellent outfielder and that will likely be her primary position next year in college, she said, in addition to backup catcher.
“I have the luxury of putting Anna wherever she helps us the most,” Kachadorian said. “She is an excellent catcher and we needed a catcher.”
The Swarmin' Hornets won their second Class 3A West Region title in three years last spring. Warfield batted .478 with 30 runs scored and 15 stolen bases. Defensively, she committed just one error and allowed only three stolen bases.
Though often overlooked, a catcher can make or break a softball team. Aside from the aforementioned tangible evidence of Warfield's contributions, she is Damascus' eyes on the field and a vocal leader, a role she said she becomes more comfortable with each season. Her rapport with the Swarmin' Hornets' pitchers, her ability to keep them in a positive mind frame and bring out their best work can be extremely influential in the outcome of games.
Though many high school coaches prefer to call pitches from the dugout, Kachadorian has given Warfield the freedom to call her own games and, evident in Damascus' results, seems to know exactly what she's doing.
Her catcher's mindset, to be in tune with every single pitch, also helps keep her focused in the outfield, Warfield said, and she can certainly draw upon her own thought process as a catcher when she is at the plate.
“One of the things you look for in a catcher is intelligence of the ball game,” Kachadorian said. “I think Anna is an athlete who can see things from a coach's perspective and understands the big picture. She knows at bat how to read defenses and decide what to do. She has a lot of that awareness of game situations that a lot of high school players don't seem to always have. She kind of sees what's going on in the whole field, not just what's going on relative to her position.”
Given her awareness, Warfield is able to act on pure instinct. She thrives in big situations because she doesn't overanalyze, Kachadorian said. She sees what needs to be done and she takes care of it, like when Damascus was down and out against Sherwood three years ago and numerous occasions since.
“[Warfield] is very much an athlete that's in the moment, she doesn't outthink herself,” Kachadorian said. “She recognizes what needs to be done and she sets out to accomplish it. There's almost an effortless in what she does, a lot of that is in the moment.”