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Steponovich Quietly Leading Griffs from Behind the Plate

Kat Steponovich has called all 270.2 innings for Missouri Western softball this season.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) With three weeks left in the regular season, Missouri Western's playing its best softball. Winners of eight straight, the Griffons are led by senior pitcher Jackie Bishop. The Kirksville native's allowed just five earned runs in her last ten starts.

"You can tell when she's really on," senior catcher Kat Steponovich said. "And when she's really on she's just lights out."

While Bishop's been tossing zeroes on the scoreboard, Steponovich has been with her behind the plate for each pitch.

"It's kind of the unsung hero," head coach Jen Trotter said. "The offensive lineman of softball is your catcher who sits behind the plate for hours on end catching spins and talking to pitchers. For as good as Jackie is, Kat is even better, because she knows how to handle Jackie."

"She's like a sister, so I trust everything she calls," Bishop said of her catcher. "She really makes me the pitcher I am."

Through 42 games this season, Steponovich has caught each one of them -- 270 1/3 innings total.

"I don't know how she does it. She's a warrior back there."

But working as a catcher since youth softball has taken its toll.

In the summer of 2012, Steponovich had surgery on a ruptured patellar tendon from the wear and tear of her position. That's not slowing her down, because catching is in her blood.

"Sometimes it's a struggle, but I wouldn't trade it for the world," Steponovich said. "I love catching. It's my passion."

Her father Tony played catcher in high school before pursuing football at UCLA. One of Steponovich's brother's Nick played the position at Ohio State and William Jewell, and another sibling, Bart, played at UC Riverside.
  
"A whole family of catchers," Trotter said. "I don't think it even dawned on her after knee surgery she'd play some place else. That's where she belongs."

Down to just eight regular season games left before the MIAA Tournament, Steponovich is trying to soak up each moment on the diamond and keep the family tradition alive.

"This has been our life since we were six-years-old," Steponovich said. "So I don't think it's really hit us yet."
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