Categorized | Sports

The Making of The Show

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Part of the MKG Show is Mady Kate Gantt at the plate.

David Gantt has been waiting on this moment for nearly 15 years.

On Nov. 15 in the Tipton-Rosemark Academy lobby his daughter Mady Kate Gantt was surrounded by family, friends, coaches and teachers to sign her national letter of intent to play softball at Bethel University.

“The day is here,” he said. “That’s what she’s worked for. And that’s what I’ve been the dad for. It’s paying off. Hard work always pays off.”

For several around Lady Rebel Softball the last three years, it appeared Mady Kate made things look easy from catches in the outfield, to making defensive plays in the infield.

At the plate, Gantt has been Head Coach Joe Layton’s leadoff hitter since her freshman year. Her on-base percentage is one of the highest in the state and her batting average is near the top of TRA.

“She’s done everything on the field,” Layton said. “I don’t think she’s going to have any problems going to the next level competing. She’s led off for us every single game since she was a freshman. She can play anywhere. Bethel is really fortunate have her coming out there. She’s going to do well. She’s a special player. I’m glad I got her for this spring then we’ll let her go.”

Layton said he will have one of the best seats in the house to see Gantt shine one more season in the Lady Rebel red, white and blue.

“Just natural ability and talent,” he said. “She’s the best I’ve seen in a while come through. We’ve had some individual position players over the years but as for all around, she has the skills just about anywhere she wants to play. Anything she wants to do and sets her mind to, she can do it. I would put her up there at the top.”

David said he saw his daughter’s natural ability for the game at an early age.

“Probably around the 4-year old mark,” he said, “It was the way she did everything, the way she ran. I bought her first glove when she was 3. We started from the beginning with the proper technique, learning the tricks of the trade so they say.”

Mady Kate’s mother Amy Easley was also right by her daughter’s side the whole time witnessing her mature into a young woman and one of the best softball players in the Shelby-Metro area.

“I’m a proud mother,” she said. “I always knew she had the ability and the drive. I was just waiting on her to want to pursue it. Her softball during her high school years has been the time I knew she would go on to play college ball.”

Easley was right by her daughter’s side as she signed her letter of intent to become a Lady Wildcat. And when Mady Kate heads to McKenzie to start her college career, Easley will be right there cheering.

Mady Kate’s mother hasn’t missed a game including the moment she scored the game-winning run in the 2011 Division II-A State Tournament game. Once USJ threw the ball pass second base Gantt flew around the base path to touch home plate bringing home TRA’s first State title in any sport.

“Once again it goes back to 4 years old,” David said. “She started at that young age trying to do the best you can at everything you do. That winning run was an unforgettable moment. When you get down it the big play of the game, with three balls and two strikes, two outs.

“You’re the batter up and it’s do or die,” he added. “Somebody has to win and lose. It just so happen the good Lord shining on us that day. We were the ones to come out on the winning side.”

With Mady Kate the Lady Rebels have been on the winning side a lot the last three years. In addition to the 2011 championship, TRA made another trip to State the following year after winning the league title.

In that run to the 2012 West Regional championship and Sub-State series victory, Gantt played several positions for the Lady Rebels.

“I think it’s something we’ve always taught her,” Easley said, “you do what the coach ask you to do and you do it to the best of your ability. I think she’s had the inner drive to want to please and do her best at softball.”

Gantt said her parents instill that work ethic in her and their support was an additional motivation each time she put on her uniform.

“I’ve played every position on the field, even shortstop and second base, left handed, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “I just do whatever. Whatever position I play, I play it to the best of my abilities. I’ll do whatever I can to help my team out.

“My Daddy practiced me at every position,” Mady Kate added. “He taught me all. Even if I’m having a bad game…he’s my softball. I play it for him. Mom is the cheerleader. My Daddy will tell me what I need to hear even if I don’t want to hear it. Mom is always the positive. Every game they are my support system. I don’t think they missed a game.”

Gantt added the Rosemark family and her teammates have been a huge boost to her support system in recent years. The senior said her time at TRA has prepared her to move on to Bethel to play for Head Coach Larry Geraldi and take on her major of special education.

“She’s had to work hard,” Easley said. “She’s worked hard for her grades, on these softball fields, on the volleyball court, everywhere she’s gone. She has worked hard. And we’ve encouraged her. We just told her to do the best in everything she does and it will pay off. She’s had God-given ability. We made sure she used those God-given abilities to reach her potential.”

Living up to her potential made Mady Kate’s dream come true. And the day David envisioned years ago became a reality with his daughter signing with the right college.

“I can just keep on going back to 4,” he concluded. “This is what we hoped would happen. This is what we worked for. There’s been several offers. We felt the Lord led us to this one. We’re excited for four more years of softball and we’ll go from here.”

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December 2012
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