Standing 5-foot-11, Courtney Saville is hard not to notice.
Put a softball in the Brunswick junior’s hand and the attention she demands is almost palpable.
While the right-handed pitcher’s success comes in part from her incredible athleticism, her determination is just as responsible for her early achievements with the Blue Devils.
Her journey began as a sophomore, when she moved from KellamHigh School in Virginia Beach, Va., to MedinaCounty.
Saville landed at Buckeye for about a week, but didn’t feel like the school was the right fit for her, so she enrolled at Brunswick. Under Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, that locked her out of her 10th-grade campaign with the Blue Devils as an athlete.
It didn’t set back her resolve.
“I know it was devastating for her to sit out because she loves the game of softball,” Brunswick center fielder Jess Calhoun said. “I know she really wanted to play and that it broke her heart not to have the opportunity to do so, but it was just a great support to have her there watching all the time.”
Saville took not playing in stride and looked to help her new team as much as she could. If it meant grabbing a rake and tending to the field after a game, she was there. If Blue Devils coach Julie Salzman needed her to help keep score, she sharpened a pencil.
An incredible addition to the Blue Devils — Saville was named second-team all-district as a freshman at Kellam after a 9-2 freshman campaign — she tried to help the squad any way she could.
“I’ll tell you what kind of kid she is: She was at absolutely everything with us,” Salzman said. “She was allowed to do anything and everything with us except put a jersey on and go on the field.
“She was the first one on the field after the game with a rake. She was the one getting water together, turning the scoreboard on, doing this, doing that. It was amazing how dedicated she was even though she wasn’t playing.”
When Saville started playing, Salzman knew she had something special. Saville showed up at open gyms and the 11th-year coach saw the things that make a great high school pitcher.
The fact Saville can go to eight different pitches to get the job done showed her potential. Her attitude brought out the competitor.
“When I first saw her, the first person that came to mind was (former Gazette MVP) McKenna (Galloway),” Salzman said. “I thought, ‘This kid has to be able to throw a ball.’
“She started coming to some open gyms and things of that nature. We watched her throw and we were obviously impressed, hoping that she was going to play with us, but it ended up according to rules she couldn’t. It was bothering her. She’s a player. She couldn’t wait to get out on the field.”
On the field, Saville has been nothing short of spectacular. In her debut with Brunswick, she tossed a no-hitter and struck out five in a 10-0 win over Normandy.
The no-no was big for some, but not Saville, who was just happy to be playing ball again.
“I was happier to be part of Brunswick and be out there playing,” she said. “I know what I can do. Softball isn’t an individual sport. It felt good to be out there helping them win. It felt good to be a part of something. I didn’t want to let them down after sitting out the year.”
Early returns speak for themselves, as Saville has a 3-1 record with 25 strikeouts. She’s averaging 1.1 strikeouts per inning and is sporting a 1.75 earned run average. Batters are hitting .139 off her.
Those numbers and her positive attitude have made things very easy for Blue Devils catcher Molly Grzybowski.
“She’s a great player and a great pitcher,” Grzybowski said. “She knows what she’s doing. She’s very good at what she does. All of her pitches work. Whatever I call, I know she’s going to hit her spot. She’s really tough.”
Those attributes should only get stronger as Saville continues to jell with her Brunswick teammates and get ready for the rough-and-tumble Northeast Ohio Conference schedule and the postseason to follow.
“I wasn’t surprised at all to see how good she was doing,” Calhoun said. “I knew how good she was against us in practice. I couldn’t wait to see it. I knew what she could do. I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do in our conference games.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.