Katie Virgin will be missed by the Rochester Lourdes softball team next season in almost every way imaginable.
Virgin’s standard-setting work ethic, her leadership on and off the field, her production at the plate and her spotless defensive play will be difficult for the Eagles to replace.
“The one thing we won’t miss about Katie is her music selection,” Lourdes head coach Becky Macken said with a laugh. “She’d chirp right up at practice every day and hook her music up. We’d tell her to change it and throw things at her … but she was a senior captain. We’d just try to yell above it.”
Taste in music aside, Virgin leaves the Lourdes program as one of its all-time best. She set three single-season team records as a senior as the Eagles went 25-3, earned the program’s first trip to the state tournament and won its first-ever Class AA softball state championship.
Virgin will attend the University of St. Thomas in the fall and play softball for legendary coach John Tschida. But first, she adds one more bullet point to her impressive high school resume on her way out: She is the 2019 Post Bulletin All-Area Softball Player of the Year.
“Everything we expected from Katie this year, she certainly delivered,” Macken said. “She became a team captain this year and really led by example, a quiet, stoic leader. It was her last year at Lourdes, she wanted (the state title) more than anybody.”
Virgin was a powerful force at the plate this season, moving between the cleanup spot and the No. 3 spot in the batting order. She had a .468 batting average, an impressive 1.315 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), 12 extra-base hits – including four home runs – and 41 RBIs.
She was named to the Class AA All-State First Team and the Academic All-State Team.
“We know she put the time in,” Macken said. “Her work ethic, her away-from-practice work ethic, was amazing. She was at the yard all the time, with her dad, working on her hitting.
“She started the season batting in the four-spot, then we moved her up to third and were thinking of moving her even higher to get her more at-bats, but she provided so much power. She was never a lazy out, always hit the ball hard.”
Perhaps overshadowed by her potent offensive ability was Virgin’s defensive play. She didn’t commit a single error in her entire senior season, playing at first base, a position required to effectively handle the ball often. She became the first Lourdes player to have an error-free season, surpassing former Minnesota Gopher Sam Macken, who made just one error as a senior at Lourdes.
“Playing at a hot spot like first base, you have a lot of chances” to field the ball, Becky Macken said. “Katie’s defense was incredible. We told her ‘it’s your job to make everyone else look good. Expect a bad throw, expect something in the dirt.’ And these kids have played together for so long that she just knew where the ball would end up.”
Virgin’s keen eye in the field translated to the plate. She walked 24 times – a single-season team record – and also set season records for RBIs (41) and fewest errors (0). She graduated as the school’s all-time leader in home runs (12), walks (53) and fewest errors (6).
“She is a great student, too,” Macken said, “the epitome of a student-athlete.
“And her time management will be her biggest asset (adjusting to) college. She was always at practice early with the other captains, making sure things were set up and ready to go. … She’ll be very successful.”