DUDLEY – Katie Toler expected to play softball beyond high school.
The question was where and with who?
She made that decision last Wednesday afternoon.
Surrounded by her family, the Southern Wayne senior signed a national letter-of-intent to play at Wake Tech this fall. She’ll join teammates Layla Rackley and Allie Lane, who each committed to the junior college program earlier this season.
All three play in the Next Level Training Center travel-ball organization.
“It was a goal,” the soft-spoken Toler said. “Once I had the opportunity to play for Wake Tech, I took it and I’m going to move forward with that. It’s exciting to play with Layla and Allie because I have a connection with them.
“I feel more comfortable.”
A talented utility player, Toler moved from the infield to behind the plate during her junior season.
She loved protecting the dish.
“I love blocking [a pitch] and I feel like I’ve become very good at that,” Toler said. “I’ve also been able to frame the ball better. [As a catcher] I like that I can see everything and have that big role as a leader. With the underclassmen, I try to show them the game is played and let them know where they need to throw the ball [on a play].”
Southern Wayne compiled a 9-11 worksheet this spring and returned to the NC High School Athletic Association 3A playoffs for the first time since 2019.
Toler played a huge role in that success.
The four-year varsity performer batted .367 with 29 hits, 17 RBI and 23 runs scored. She also ended the year 21 for 21 on stolen-base attempts. Those stats, minus runs scored and RBI, were tops on the team.
Lane tallied 33 runs and 23 RBI.
“Katie’s presence behind the plate was irreplaceable,” said SW head coach Jamie Williams. “Her growth as a catcher this year alone was phenomenal and she truly showed grit day in and day out, even battling a thumb injury all season. Yes, her numbers were impressive.
“We knew when she got on base, she was a force to be reckoned with. She was smart, aggressive and made things happen.”
Toler plans to major in exercise science, continue her studies at a four-year school once she leaves Wake Tech and hopefully play softball.