PREP NEWSMAKER: Maturity shows in Duluth East shortstop
Tyra Kerr has matured a lot -- on and off the field -- since her debut with the Duluth East softball team as an eighth-grader. During Kerr's first appearance with the Greyhounds varsity on a 2005 trip to Florida, the team saw televised news repor...
Tyra Kerr has matured a lot -- on and off the field -- since her debut with the Duluth East softball team as an eighth-grader.
During Kerr's first appearance with the Greyhounds varsity on a 2005 trip to Florida, the team saw televised news reports declaring that Pope John Paul II had died after a lengthy illness.
Fellow eighth-grader Sarah Hockett recalls Kerr's reaction upon hearing the news during a team breakfast.
"Tyra said, 'Who would name their kid Pope?'" Hockett said.
Kerr laughs about the incident now, calling it a case of youthful naiveté. She certainly hasn't given anyone reason to laugh about her on-field performance. A solid left-handed hitter and exceptional fielder for five years, the 17-year-old senior shortstop has parlayed that into a partial scholarship at Minnesota Duluth for the 2009-10 school year.
"She's a player that the whole team can count on," Hockett said. "She's steady and reliable."
Kerr is batting .382 with four RBIs and five runs scored, though a youthful East team has struggled in a 2-8 start. Kerr, a three-sport captain, spends part of her time teaching the younger players the ins and outs of playing the infield and at other times leads by example.
"There's times that she does things in practice that I can point out [to the other players]," East coach Sara Marshall said. "As a first-time coach, I might not even think to point it out, but then I see her do something and I think, 'That's a good thing to show the rest of the girls.' She knows the game so well."
Marshall, 23, was a senior in 2004 when Kerr and Hockett were seventh-graders aspiring to play on the varsity.
"They were probably good enough as seventh-graders that they could have played an inning or two of varsity, but we had so many older girls that year," Marshall said.
Kerr remembers watching Marshall, a fellow shortstop, that season and wishing it was her making plays in the field.
"She was the friendliest of the seniors and she was a shortstop, so I watched her a lot," Kerr said. "I remember watching her dive for the ball, and I told myself I wanted to be like her."
Now lots of young athletes, in several sports, would like to emulate Kerr. She's earned 14 letters at East -- five each in softball and hockey and four in soccer. It took her a while to decide, not only which college to attend but also which sport to play.
"People would always ask, 'What's your favorite sport?'" she said. "I'd say, 'Whatever sport I'm playing at the time seems to be my favorite sport.' But since I played softball the most, it outweighed the other two."