By Will Johnson
LATEXO – Gracie Zalesky, the 2017 co-Queen of the Circle (along with Neches’ Josie Sumpter), recently received a full-ride scholarship to pitch for the Navarro College Lady Bulldogs. She is the daughter of Celeste and Charles Janak and the granddaughter of Debbi and Stephen Zalesky, all from Crockett.
Over her career with the Latexo Lady Tigers, Gracie helped lead the school to its first ever playoff appearance in 2016. She also pitched Latexo into the playoffs earlier this year and looks for a return trip to the postseason during her senior year in 2018.
Among the numerous accolades she has acquired along the way, Gracie was selected as the Newcomer of the Year during the 2015 season and was also selected as Queen of the Circle in 2016.
“Gracie has played softball her entire life and absolutely loves it,” her mom commented after the signing ceremony held on Nov. 8.
Gracie has been the varsity pitcher for the Lady Tigers since she was a freshman and in 2016, with the help of her teammates, Latexo brought home its first ever Bi-District win in softball as they defeated the Alto Lady Jackets by a score of 6-3.
She has played in the Crockett girls’ softball league, on traveling teams and most recently she has played on several Showcase teams, mainly with the Impact Gold team.
The senior pitcher would like to thank everyone who has helped on her journey with
their encouragement and support. She extended a special thank you to former LHS Softball Coach Mike Gain for helping her with her hitting and allowing her to help mentor sixth graders at Latexo in softball.
According to her grandmother, “The girls were very glad to have her help them and Gracie really enjoyed it. She’s very excited about the up and coming softball players for the Lady Tigers and feels like when they reach the junior high and high school levels, Latexo will be tough to beat. She wants them to know to know she is cheering them on and wishing the best for all of them.”
Gracie also expressed her deep appreciation to her pitching coach, Benny Jones. She has traveled from Houston County to Tyler once a week for the last several years to receive instruction from Jones and credits a major part of her success to him.
While she heaped praise on her coaches, she was even more appreciative of the support and sacrifices made by her family. Gracie said she couldn’t have reached this level of success without her grandfather – Stephen Zalesky – sitting on a white bucket for hours on end as he caught for her.
She also singled out her mom for “… always being there and supporting me in this. I also want to say thank you to my Grandma for taking me to pitching lessons when Granddaddy couldn’t go.”
Last, but certainly not least, Gracie also extended a big thank you to Grapeland Softball Coach Joel Barbosa for his recommendation and for helping to make this possible.
Gracie added she is very excited about her upcoming senior season with the Lady Tigers as well as her freshman season with the Navarro College Lady Bulldogs.
From all of us at The Messenger, we would like to wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors both on and off the field.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.