By LARRY VAUGHT
She’s a preseason all-Southeastern Conference selection again and one of the leaders on a team that hopes to get past the Super Regional and make the World Series. But as good as Kentucky senior shortstop Katie Reed is on the field, she might be even better off the field.
She’s never made a B at UK. She has a perfect 4.0 grade-point average to go along with a .340 career batting average and almost .970 fielding average.
Reed was the 2018 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and an Academic All-American. She’s already been accepted into the University of Pittsburgh’s dental school.
Coach Rachel Lawson says she’s “scary smart.” Catcher Jenny Schaper, a long-time friend, says Reed is the smartest person she knows.
“I just have a perfectionist personality. I have always been like that,” said Reed. “My parents put a big focus on academics. Going to college the ultimate goal is to get your degree. Being able to play Division I softball is a plus, but academics has always been first for me. We have the resources, tutors, advisors to help with anything you need here.
“I do have to study a lot. It doesn’t come naturally. I push myself really hard in the classroom. I strive for an A in every class but the important thing is learning and gaining the knowledge in every class. Making A’s meant a little more to me because I knew I would be applying for dental school and it is so competitive to get in. I just like learning, going to class and enjoying school.”
Then she laughed, paused and added, “I do like making A’s, too. I guess I am a little competitive on that, too.”
Reed already has 187 career hits, including 25 doubles and 12 home runs, going into the season that starts Friday in Houston. She’s driven in 75 runs and scored 105 runs but she’s probably even better known for her defensive prowess. She was named to the all-SEC defensive team last year and makes plays most athletes cannot.
She’s known for a “long time” that she wanted to go into the medical field when her softball career ended. Her sophomore year at UK she “shadowed” former UK pitcher Rachel Riley, who was working in a private dental practice in Lexington. She also shadowed a dentist when she went home to St. Louis that summer.
“It just felt like the perfect fit for me and my personality,” Reed said.
Same with the mission trip she took to Ethiopia with Schaper and other UK student-athletes last summer. Coach Rachel Lawson nominated Reed and Schapper for selection.
“It’s incredible that our athletics department can do something like that and take student-athletes there who probably would never experience anything like that otherwise. I am just thankful I got to be part of that amazing experience,” Reed said. “We helped out with different ministries, visited orphanages. Everyone there was so happy and it changed my perspective on life. It has made me appreciative of all we have because they don’t have the same luxuries in other countries that we do. They are just happy for what they have and here we lose track of that sometimes. It was very eye-opening, very heartwarming.”
It’s almost been the same way playing for Lawson following her brilliant prep career in St. Louis. Reed says it has been a “fun experience” even when Lawson has been demanding.
“It has all be worth it. She has helped me grow a lot as a person and player. She pushes you to the limit but wants the best for you,” Reed said. “She will do anything to help me with softball or life in general. The whole staff has been like that.
“It’s also been a great experience to get to a game hours early and fans are already in the stadium. It’s cool having BBN behind us and getting to play in the SEC is just really special. Not a lot of players get to play in the SEC, so I try to embrace it every day. Coach Lawson has helped me understand about living the moment, making the most of every day.”