A publication by the students, about the students, and for the students of White Station High School

White Station Scroll

A publication by the students, about the students, and for the students of White Station High School

White Station Scroll


Three Spartans remain standing on the field

From left to right, Breanna Whirley (12), Karina Hernandez (12) and Bella Gatti (12) pose for a picture after their game against Whitehaven on April 4 2024. The Spartans won 19-4 that day.

Spartans Bella Gatti (12), Karinah Hernandez (12) and Breanna Whirley (12) are remarkable athletes who have dedicated themselves to the game of softball for the past six years. Through countless hours of practice, unwavering commitment and a love for the sport, these three players have honed their skills and formed unbreakable bonds on and off the field. 

In sixth grade, after hearing the announcement that the softball tryouts began, Gatti decided to give it a shot.

“My mom used to talk about how she played in college and how she really enjoyed it,” Gatti said. 

Growing up in a soccer family, Hernandez was only familiar with soccer games and would occasionally play volleyball with her church and friends, but she didn’t play softball until her sixth grade year. 

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“I didn’t really know about softball growing up,” Hernandez said. “It was always soccer.”

Whirley grew up in a household full of sport lovers. Whirley has been holding her fastpitch softball bat and batting gloves since she was five years old, taught by her grandfather.

“My grandfather [played] for a recreational league, just for fun,” Whirley said. “He’s really been playing his whole life.”

The team does not have specific leadership roles, but it does have seniors stepping up into the roles of leaders; accordingly, these three seniors try to play the role of a coach.

“[As leaders, we have to] keep everyone on task and [their] energy up,” Whirley said. 

Encouragement plays a big role in team bonding and support for one another. Receiving constructive feedback and praise from the leaders can be motivating to new players.

“I try to encourage them a lot,” Gatti said. “Back when I was a freshman, when I would hear praise from a senior or upperclassmen, it would make me feel amazing.”

Bella Gatti (12) plays third base for the 23-24 softball season. Gatti has been playing softball for the past six years. (GRACE AMGALAN//THE SCROLL)

As of now, the team has 16 players ranging from freshmen to seniors. Some came in with little knowledge of softball tactics, so as leaders, the seniors had to teach everything starting from the fundamentals. 

“It means I have to have a lot of patience,” Hernandez said. “Some of them came in not knowing what softball was. We really had to teach them and have patience for them with a patient matter.”

Hernandez and the other players realized that in reality high school varsity games are much more extreme and competitive than the seventh grade games they used to play.

“[In] middle school we didn’t have any teams at all that played up to our level so there were all pretty easy games and in high school we definitely had teams that were either to our level or better than us,” Hernandez said. “It’s definitely more hard work.”

Although senior year is the spotlight for these three players who have played the sport for their entire high school career, they nevertheless face some challenges.

“[The hardest part would be] just playing up to the standards of a senior in a sport,” Hernandez said. “There are so much higher expectations for you since you’ve been playing that sport for so long. You should know the sport by the back of your hand almost.”

Softball is very important to many members of the team and their passion reflects onto others.

“I think softball has shaped her a lot,” Izzy Williamson (12) said. “Softball is a really good outlet for her. I feel like she wouldn’t be the same person as she is now if she wasn’t playing softball.”

Compared to baseball, softball has shorter distances but the weight of the ball is heavier. Softball balls  usually have a 12-inch circumference and weigh around seven ounces. Baseball players use balls with a circumference of around 9.25 inches and 5.25 ounces in weight.

“Our bases are a lot shorter,” Whirley said. “Our bases are at 60 feet and they’re at 90 feet. I will say it’s kind of hard to throw a softball because of the weight.”

To a normal person, softball seems like a ‘simple’ game where a pitcher would toss the ball and the ball gets hit by a player but there is so much more to the game. It also involves precise eye-hand coordination and focused mentality.

“I saw a statistic the other day and it said that for softball, if an average college player is pitching at 70 mph and you only have 0.3 of a second to decide whether you’re going to swing,” Whirley said. 

White Station and Whitehaven have been rivals since the 1970s and at the start of the 2024 season, the team has been making their way through the victories. 

“We already played [Whitehaven] once this season and shockingly we beat them 27-1 and that was outrageous,” Gatti said. 

Just last week, the Spartans won against Whitehaven 14 to nine. Additionally, the team has been District Champion for two years in a row now and continues to strive for excellence in tournaments outside the state such as the Brookland Bearcat Blast. They played against many teams from Arkansas, where every round was an elimination round.

“There are definitely some competitions up [in Arkansas],” Whirley said. 

Although Gatti has no desire to play in college, softball remains a big part of her life. 

“I just love playing softball,” Gatti said. “Softball is my happy place and escape from everything [in life.]”


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