The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 10, 2014

Saturday fulfilling a dream

Edgewood standout excited to take it to next level at Ohio Northern

By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon

— Edgewood senior Gia Saturday has been always been an athlete, playing 3 sports during her time as a Warrior. One sport, however, has been her passion from the very beginning.

“My family has just always been a baseball and softball family,” the daughter of Kathleen and Dave Saturday said. “I started playing travel ball when I was 8. Softball is just such a relaxed sport. That’s why I like it so much. I can be myself and be a leader on the field and not be running round all the time. I can take a step back and appreciate the game as a whole instead of being focused on one certain play.”

Saturday, a senior shortstop for the Warriors, will be able to appreciate the game on a whole new level starting in the fall. She will lace up her cleats while attending Ohio Northern University.

It’s something that was a long time in the making.

“It’s a relief, mostly (to have made the choice),” she said. “It’s been a long process. It just felt good knowing I could further my softball career. It was my dream to play in college.

“Honestly, I’ve always known (I would play in college). Everyone always told me I should play softball in college, but I don’t think it really clicked until this past summer. That was a big recruiting stage.”

Saturday chose Ohio Northern over a number of other schools.

“It was mostly for academics (that I chose ONU),” she said. “That was a factor. All the schools I looked at had my program. The coach (Allison Hess) was the one I was most comfortable with. And (Ada) is like home. It’s a very small town. It’s a lot like Ashtabula. It’s in a country setting. There are a lot of corn fields. It felt like my hometown.

“I looked at Otterbein quite a lot and there was South Carolina State, but that got put out because of Ohio Northern. I looked at Thiel, but that was more of an academic option instead of softball.”

That program Saturday was looking for is an odd one, but one that captures her interests even if she had to do some digging to figure out what exactly it was.

“I’m going to major in mathematical statistics with a concentration in actuarial science,” she said. “My main goal is to become an actuary. Hopefully, my life will be somewhere with a big insurance company. An actuary is the person who figures out the insurance rates for a red car and a blue car. It’s the person who does all the background work to figure out insurance rates. It’s probabilities and statistics.”

It’s not exactly a career Saturday grew up dreaming about, but it’s one that’s a unique fit to her interests.

“Actually, that came about last year. I had Mr. (Kevin) Andrejack and at a parent-teacher conference he said, ‘Wow. Gia really likes math. Has she thought about actuarial science?’

“I asked what the heck it was and he said to look into it. It’s perfect for me and my interests.”

Being a student-athlete should be no problem on the college level for Saturday.

“I’ve played 3 sports and maintained a 4.0 throughout high school,” she said. “Since it’s a Division III school, academics come first. They have a study table where they take away our cell phones and laptops and we just study with the team. Academics definitely come first.”

Saturday has played some of the best competition, not only in the state, but in the country. Making the leap to college ball shouldn’t be much of an issue.

“I’m not worried about hitting,” she said. “Until high school, it was never one of my strong points. But I worked with my dad and with my experience with the Lasers and Outlaws (during travel ball) it became one. I’m confident with my approach at the plate and if I struggle in one at-bat, I’ll get it the next one.”

Though Saturday began playing softball at 8, it was when she was 12 things got serious.

“I don’t know if I was as hooked from 8-10 when I played for the Top Guns and in Little League,” she said. “The main commitment came when I was 12. My family decided to trip me off to Columbus every weekend. We spent a lot of time and money going to Columbus just for the day for practice. It became serious at that point.”

Though she’s been a shortstop for the Warriors, Saturday is open to playing just about anywhere.

“We haven’t talked, position-wise,” she said. “We talked about my defensive aspects and (Hess) really likes my strong arm. I know they graduate the whole left side of their infield. Heck, I’d be lucky to play in the outfield even though I’ve never played the outfield before. If that’s what she sees in me, that’s what I’ll play.”

For Saturday, it isn’t about playing one specific position, but more about just playing the game.

“Exactly,” she said. “I get to play in college, no matter what division, no matter what position. I’m playing college ball. Not many people get the chance to that step one step farther.”

The Klondikes don’t have a rich history in softball, but Hess is looking to correct that.

“It’s a small Division III program,” Saturday said. “As much as everyone says it’s a lesser program, they have a strong team. I think defense is their weakest point. They’re strong offensively. That’s why Coach Hess likes me a lot. I’m strong, defensively, but I’m also strong, offensively.

“This is her first year, so I think she’s working to build the program through the next few years.”

And that’s something that excites Saturday.

“I definitely like that,” she said. “That’s a great aspect for me. I’d like to set a legacy instead of being part of one already there. I’d like to be part of the first team to do something. It’s a great honor to be part of something new and upcoming.”

The fact that Hess is younger and a woman is new to Saturday.

“I’ve never had young coaches, per se,” she said. “I’ve had maybe 1 or 2 female coaches and none in softball. I think she’ll be very relatable. I think I’ll be able to get along with her very well.”

Having good coaches, including her father, along the way has helped Saturday.

“I’ve had a lot of different types of coaches through the years,” she said. “I don’t talk to him much anymore, but Jeff Cavanaugh with the Lasers brought softball to a new level for me. He had us talking to college coaches when we were 12.

“I’ve been with Jeff Stevenson for 4 or 5 years now. He’s more laid back, but he’s helped me with anything I could ask for. He’s one of my biggest supporters. He never doubted me for a second.”

Growing up in a family that loves baseball and softball has given Saturday the opportunity she has in front of her.

“(My parents) mean everything to me,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without not just my parents, but Dominic (her brother), too. Dominic has played a huge part. My dad would whack ground balls at me. Dominic would teach me how to hit. My mom was on the emotional side. She provides the support. Even when they’re not coaching me, they’re my biggest fans.”

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.