Future UK softball player Emory Donaldson is as versatile as they come

Published 2:00 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

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Kentucky softball signee Emory Donaldson doesn’t worry about where coach Rachel Lawson will play her next season.

“We really have not discussed where I will play on defense. I trust my ability to play anywhere. She (Lawson) will see where I fit best,” said Donaldson. “I play center field for Ballard. I am mainly an infielder on my travel ball team. I can play pretty much anywhere.”

Donaldson certainly understands winning, too. Ballard went 39-0 in 2022 when it won the state high school championship and won its first 22 games this season before losing 6-4 at Great Crossing on May 4. Still, the 61-game win streak shattered the previous state record (46) for the longest win streak and the Bruins remain the favorite to repeat as state champion.

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The Bruins have won six straight games since the loss, including a 2-1, nine-inning win over Roncalli (Indianapolis), the nation’s third-ranked team by MaxPreps (Ballard was fifth going into the game).

Donaldson admits setting the state consecutive game win record was “fun” but that Ballard has been focused on postseason play more than regular-season wins.

“Our goal is to go into each game and get better. There is sort of an intimidation factor where some teams think, ‘This stacked team is playing us that can shut you down and pound you on offense,” Donaldson said. “We have never thought we were unbeatable, but we do always go into any game thinking we can and will win.”

Donaldson had a difficult start to the season coming back from a foot problem that started bothering her in June during travel ball. She got it checked in October and spent about four months with her foot in a boot. Once she got it off, she developed another “minor” injury on the same spot of the same foot.

“It’s not been too bad, and I’m just glad to be playing again,” Donaldson, who has not missed a game this season, said.

As a junior she hit .504 last season with 15 home runs and drove in 47 runs in 39 games. She also had 22 stolen bases in the state championship season. That was a big jump from her sophomore season when she hit .364 with just two home runs and 20 RBI. This year she’s hitting .482 with 10 home runs, 38 RBI’s and 17 stolen bases in 26 games.

“I am just maturing with my play. I tried to build more strength in the weight room and have worked on getting on base more,” Donaldson said. “I have a great lineup behind me so there is not any pressure on me to perform. I can just have fun and enjoy my teammates. I have been playing with some of these girls since we were 7 or 8 years old.”

Donaldson is the versatile athlete that Lawson loves having at Kentucky. Donaldson played basketball through her freshman year before focusing on softball and avoiding injuries.

“I wasn’t too bad (in basketball). I could shoot the ball and play defense,” Donaldson, who also played soccer, said.

Her athleticism includes being able to juggle, something she started after attending a UK softball camp where one of the drills was juggling.

“When I was injured I was always juggling and having fun. Once you get the hang of the movement it is just practicing the same motion and continuing to do it. You have to have decent eye-hand coordination,” Donaldson said. “A lot of players on the team do it now.

“I still would not call myself a juggler but it is a very nice hobby and something I enjoy.”