Home run queen

GVL / Robert Mathews

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews

Pete Barrows

Grand Valley State University slugger Katie Martin has yet to call her own shot, but the bat-busting and record-breaking senior is quietly quilting a Babe Ruthian lore and legacy for herself at GVSU.

A pitcher initially, like Ruth, Martin split time between third base and the mound her freshman season. As Martin’s career progressed, she gravitated away from the field and the mound, embracing her full potential at the plate as a designated hitter, like Ruth.

“Of course you’re going to do what the team needs you to do,” Martin said. “If that’s what I’m supposed to be doing, then throw me in there, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. At first, it was definitely an adjustment, but now I love it. You have nothing else to worry about. You see what the pitcher’s throwing, you’re just full on focused on hitting and after you adjust to it, there’s absolutely no problem with it. I enjoy it, I’m still in the game, and I love it.”

At the final junction of her career, the records are continuing to pile up – Martin holds six GVSU career records – and a home run earlier this season set three career marks (259 hits, 164 runs and 47 home runs, now the GLIAC mark) at once. By the time Martin’s finished (she’s currently second behind Kim Biskup in both walks and RBI), she, like Ruth, might not have any records left to break.

“It’s been fun and it’s still fun,” Martin said. “I’m excited to finish the year. I’m going through it and I’m not exactly realizing everything. I don’t know when it’s going to hit me exactly, but it’s cool, quite an accomplishment and it’s been fun.”

With so many records to her name, it’s become difficult for Martin to pick just one to take pride in. A prolific hitter is not defined by solely by stats however, a truth not lost on Martin.

“(The record I’m most proud of is) probably the batting average (career .432 hitter), which I know is not concrete yet depending on how I finish this year,” Martin said. “That was probably my favorite one just because I think it shows the consistency throughout the year, that I did it all in one year.”

More importantly than the records, the Lakers (23-3, 11-1 GLIAC) are winning and the senior laden roster (eight in total) has made major contributions, on and off the diamond, to ensure the W’s continue to pile up. For Martin and the rest of her senior peers, the winning mentality and the accumulation of record-breaking production required patience and practice to perfect.

“Katie Martin was my roommate as a freshman, I would go back and room with Katie any day,” said senior catcher Emily Holt. “I think the seniors we had, we came in and we’ve been through everything – the ups, the downs, we’ve had good seasons, we’ve had bad.

After a slight statistical regression in 2012 following her Daktronics Player of the Year sophomore season, Martin, who currently has 35 hits, eight home runs, 11 doubles, 70 total bases and 37 RBI is right back on pace to end her career at a peak. With 47 strikeouts and 47 home runs in her 606 career at-bats, an average of one each every 13 plate appearances, Martin has mastered the art of slugging balance and went back through her career to re-establish the skill in the 2013.

“I was looking through my three years here and my sophomore year was definitely my biggest year here so far,” Martin said. “I thought about that year, what I did, looked at stats a little bit and I struck out a lot that year – but I hit better. I did this the summer coming into this year and thought about it. Last year, my junior year, I didn’t swing my bat as much and I didn’t strike out as much, but I swung more my sophomore year. This year I went in with the mentality that I’m going to swing a lot and be really aggressive and I don’t care if I strikeout, I’m swinging the bat. I know what cuts to take and I go up there every time thinking ‘you’re going to swing hard’.”

After coming up short in last year’s 45-win campaign, Martin and the rest of the Lakers are hungry to fulfill championship aspirations. If GVSU is to be successful in that aim, it will take the entire team working in conjunction with Martin’s bat. No matter how the 2013 season completes, championship or not, or how many records are broken, Martin’s GVSU legend and status as a teammate are secure. For Martin, it’s not about Martin or records – it’s about winning and winning as a team.

“Half my stats I couldn’t have done without my team,” Martin said. “I think about my RBI’s and my hits – if I didn’t have my teammates there cheering me on and being on base. You always have to take everything back to the team.”
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