Black happy to catch on with Salem

Published 1:25 am Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Fairland Lady Dragons’ senior catcher and four-year starter Makena Black signed a letter-of-intent with the Salem University Tigers on Tuesday. Attending the signing ceremony were: from left to right, sister Brynn Ferguson, step-mother Laura Keeney, brother-in-law’s Kade Keeney, father-in-law Benjamin Keeney, Makena, mother Jessica Davis, brother Wyatt Keeney and sister Emma Richie. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photos/For The Ironton Tribune)


PROCTORVILLE — With her high school softball career drawing near an end, Fairland Lady Dragons senior Makena Black was looking for a college program where she could catch on.

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After all, she’s made a career of catching.

A four-year starter as the Fairland catcher, Black signed a letter-of-intent with the Salem University Tigers on Tuesday that will give her the opportunity to continue doing what she loves, which is playing catcher.

Makena Black

Catching is a demanding position that puts the player in the line of fire with foul tips, bad pitches in the dirt, not to mention the protective equipment that’s needed and can become very hot to wear on a day when temperatures are high. Catcher’s equipment is often referred to as “the tools of ignorance.” None of that bothers Black.

“I love it. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world,” said Black with a big grin.

However, she did recall that there was a very brief time when she was not the catcher.

“My very first year I played third base, but I switched and I haven’t played anything else ever since,” she said.

Black likes being a catcher because it keeps her involved in the game on every pitch.

“I love being able to help out, framing the ball and getting strikes. I do love being involved with every pitch. I get to touch the ball no matter what,” said Black.

“Like shortstop, you don’t always get to touch it. As a catcher you always get to touch it and be in control. It’s a big deal.”

Black has played basketball and volleyball in the past, but her focus in recent years has been softball.

“I think I started playing when I was six. It’s been forever,” said Black, “Softball has just always been my thing. I feel like I’ve always loved the sport ever since I started. I never hated it unless I got mad at myself for it.”

Black said she had some interest in Shawnee State University but decided on Salem once she made the connection with the program, the coaches and the team.

“I looked at Shawnee for a little bit, but then I went to Salem and I knew I wanted to be there,” said Black. “To me, Salem had a good team, they had good teammates, they had good players. They reminded me of Fairland so it just made me feel at home.”

Black is well aware that jumping from high school to college will present another challenge, but she believes she can make the adjustment.

“I feel it’ll be more intense than high school, but I feel I’ll be able to handle it more. It’s definitely a lot different than high school, but I think I can handle it,” said Black.

The Fairland senior had a chance to work out with the team on one occasion and she said it was similar to what she has experienced in high school.

“It was mostly like high school, but definitely more stuff, more skill. It takes a lot more in college than in high school. If definitely was different, but it was better,” said Black.

Salem has a relatively young roster with 3 catchers, all of whom can play another position. Black is hoping she gets the opportunity to at least contribute in some way in her freshman season.

“My goal going in is to hopefully play a few games catching, maybe anywhere else, try something new, but mostly catching,” she said with a laugh.

So far this season, Black has a 1.000 field percentage on the defensive side, but she also has a .458 batting average and a .536 on-base percentage with an .875 slugging percent and shares the team lead with 11 hits and 10 runs batted in. She also has 3 doubles, 2 triples and a home run.

“This year I have been hitting really good. It’s definitely my best year so far in high school,” said Black. “I’m always cheering for my teammates and I think that this year offensively I’ve been better batting-wise.”

Black plans to major in nursing.