Burger King Outstanding Student Athlete: Penn's Danielle Watson
It would be easy for Penn senior pitcher and Louisville softball commit Danielle Watson to look ahead to the future, but she doesn’t. In fact, she refuses to.
"I always try to get players ready for that next step, and she doesn't want to talk about it, she doesn’t want to think about it,” said Penn Head Softball Coach Beth Zachary. “She wants to be focused right now on what we’re doing because she has been hungry for that."
It is a hunger that can only be satisfied by eradicating some very painful history. As a junior, Watson helped lead the Kingsmen to the IHSAA class 4A state championship game in which they took on Indianapolis softball power Avon. The Lady Kingsmen built a three-run lead in the third inning only to see it eradicated in the top of the seventh inning. Avon plated the game tying run thanks to a controversial play at the plate. With runners on second and third, Avon’s Makenzi Nyland placed a soft bunt back to the pitcher, Watson, who threw home seemingly in time only for the base runner to be called safe. The following batter grounded one into the outfield to score the game winning run and send Penn home as state runners-up.
"You've got to look at that red ring every day and realize, I didn't show up with my best that day," said Watson. “It was really upsetting, and as soon as that ended I was ready to jump right into this year."
Jump right in is exactly what Watson has done. She has paced a deep Penn pitching staff with 74 strikeouts in just 31 innings of work without allowing a single earned run. Not only does she have the Lady Kingsmen sitting at a perfect 6-0, but Watson has her team supremely focused on their ultimate goal.
“She’s a great leader. She sets the tone, and when it’s time to play, it is time to play,” said Zachary. “She's focused; she's locked in. She brings 100 percent every time she pitches."
"Everyone knows what it was like, and so it’s pretty clear to everyone that we're going for that state championship no matter what happens." said Watson.