High School Sports

Sinatra fan Maggie Peck a unique player, person for P-O softball

adrey@centredaily.com

She likes Frank Sinatra and fastballs, the Four Seasons and softball season. She can strike you out or take you over the fence.

And like her predecessor, Chelsea Rex, Maggie Peck is one of those pony-tailed assassins that roll off the Philipsburg-Osceola assembly line.

But while Rex was primarily a pitcher with home run power, Peck is a power hitter who moves back and forth between the pitching circle and first base after starting her career as a pitcher.

There is one area, however, where they are strikingly similar.

“All of my life people have asked me if I’m related to her,” Peck said. “We look so much alike people have asked me if we’re sisters. Some people have even asked me if I’m her.”

Which is fine with Peck, who’s headed to Juniata on a merit scholarship to pursue a career in dentistry.

“She has been one of my role models,” Peck said of Rex, who coached at P-O after graduating from St. Francis and now works as an assistant at Redlands College in California. “I really miss her. She was the type of coach who had been in the positions we’re in. She gave such good advice in the softball area. I’d say she is the person who has had the most impact on my softball career.”

It’s a career that got off to a painful start when she was in fourth grade. Peck arrived home after the first day of practice and told her mom that it hurt to catch the ball, so Peck’s mother told her she didn’t have to play anymore.

Peck still refused to stop.

“She didn’t understand why I’d like something if it hurt,” Peck said. “But I love the game. Softball has changed my life.”

And it’s changed P-O. By the time she reached ninth grade, Peck had already developed into a pitcher good enough to start for the Lady Mounties. Since then, she has turned into a versatile player who can pitch or play first base. She’s been equally effective at both, frequently being called on to relieve starter Kam Harris.

Peck now bats in the leadoff position, an unusual spot for a power hitter — because she’s also an effective bunter with great speed. In the circle, unlike Rex, Peck doesn’t blow the ball past hitters, either. Her most effective pitch is just the opposite. “Her changeup is her best pitch,” P-O coach Jim Gonder said.

“She’s been a jack-of-all-trades for us,” Gonder continued. “She came up as a freshman and pitched most of our games and, as a 10th-grader, she became our regular pitcher. She does what we need her to do. She really seems to relish pitching in relief, and yet she’s not afraid to start. And she’s always working on her fielding.”

To this point, Peck’s versatility has proven to be a key ingredient in the Lady Mounties’ success as they get ready for the postseason. The playoffs will be bittersweet for Peck — who will graduate at the top of her class — since it may be the end of her career.

“I’m not planning to play on a team this summer,” said Peck, who also played soccer for P-O. “I may try club sports in college, but I’m going to concentrate on looking to the future. I know softball isn’t going to be my career. I want to make sure I have a career I love. I’ve always been around health care — both my parents are pharmacists. And I like helping people. I’m a hands-on type of person.”

But dentistry?

“I have good hand-eye coordination,” she added. “And I don’t mind gross stuff, like looking in people’s mouths.”

And Sinatra and the Four Seasons, an eclectic mix if there ever was one, a crooner and a 1960s rock ‘n’ roll group?

“I like his voice,” she said of Sinatra. “It makes me feel calmer. But a lot the girls my age don’t like it. When we’re in the car, they want me to turn it off. They don’t appreciate it. And I have Underground Garage and Classic Vinyl in my car.”

Those girls may not appreciate Peck’s musical taste since it more closely aligns to their grandparents’. But what they do appreciate is Peck as a friend and a teammate.

The senior won’t be easily replaced at Philipsburg-Osceola — and not just because she’s a threat wherever her coach might put her.

“They all like her,” Gonder said. “There’s no jealousy, and there could be. She’s a good teammate and a good captain. She’s been a two-year captain, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those.”

Maggie Peck’s statistics

2017 season

Hitting: .346 batting average, 7 home runs, 7 doubles, 17 RBIs

Pitching: 0.32 ERA, 9 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2-2 record with 1 save

Career

Hitting: 18 home runs, 101 hits, 82 RBIs

Pitching: 132 strikeouts, 43 walks, 27-9 record with 1 save

  Comments