College-bound Maddie Troutt taking her game to a new level
The Dalles graduate senior Maddie Troutt isn’t sure when she first got interested in playing ball. “Probably like when I was 4,” she says, at a guess. Her stepdad, Leroy Tharp, was a baseball coach working with teams in Gresham, Hood River Valley and The Dalles. “She was a field rat, so to speak,” he explained. “She definitely grew up on a baseball field.”
“It was an exciting thing to go to,” Maddie remembers.
She entered the game on her own account at age 8 with Cherry City Crush, a traveling softball organization based in The Dalles.
“I’ve played ever since,” she said.
Asked to take on the catcher roll early on, Maddie declined. “I didn’t like all the gear, and it was just overwhelming,” she recalls. Yet somehow her coach, Roger Hoylman, managed to capture a video of her promising to be a catcher someday.
And she did — a good one.
Playing her senior year this spring for The Dalles Riverhawks, Maddie was named Intermountain Conference (IMC) first team catcher and was a player of the year candidate, and was Oregon’s Class 5A all-state catcher as well.
As a freshman and sophomore, she was named IMC all league, second team catcher and led Oregon’s 5A school teams in home runs as a sophomore. Her junior season in 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Maddie has also been a winner at every age group in travel softball: The 10U Cherry City Crush team was state ASA runner-up; the 12U Cherry City Crush was the state ASA champion; the 14U Cherry City Crush was second in state ASA and NAFA national champion (she was a first team, all-tournament selection); and at the 16U level, she has traveled the county playing the nation’s best competition for the Oregon Blaze 18U Gold Team.
Maddie has been running softball games from behind the plate for years now.
“I like being involved in every pitch. I would get really bored when I was younger. Outfielder? I could not do that,” she said.
As a catcher, her coaches learned to trust her in calling the pitches and running the game. Maddie is fascinated by the complexity of it all.
“You look at the batter, the way they swing, where they stand in the box, the angles they hit at. You see if they are pulling or casting, and where they hit. You’re studying batter tendencies,” she said.
And pitchers, as well. “You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of the pitcher,” she said. “Pitchers are ... sensitive,” she said. “During the game, if they are struggling, I’ll go out there and encourage them, maybe tell a joke, get them to laugh and relax. Get their mind off their bad pitches, and onto good pitches.” The relationship between the pitcher and the catcher is probably the most important relationship on the field. “You have to trust each other,” she said.
With her knowledge of the pitcher and the batters, Maddie also directs the fielders during games. “As a catcher, you can literally see the whole field,” she explained.
For Maddie, running a game is nothing unusual. “Coaches have always trusted me to handle the game, call the pitches. I’ve been taught really well, and coaches can’t see what I can see, being right there.”
In the thick of it on defense as a catcher, Maddie is also the best offensive player on The Dalles softball team. She led all 5A school teams in home runs as a sophomore, and although softball was cancelled due to the pandemic her junior year, she made her mark in her senior year, leading the team in home runs and hitting the longest home run known to have ever been made at the 16th Street ballpark: It went over the fence — over the trees — over the power lines and onto the junior varsity field below.
Having graduated from The Dalles High School on Saturday, Maddie was travelling again by Thursday: this time to Stansfield University, where she will, of course, take up spring residence at the ball field.