Grace Shaw-Rockey is a senior outfielder and middle infielder on the Lakewood Ranch High softball team. Shaw-Rockey, who is committed to the University of North Florida, hit .345 with three doubles, three triples and 21 RBIs in 2023 as the team went 16-11. The Mustangs' 2024 season will kick off Feb. 20 with a home game against Manatee High.
When did you start playing softball?
I started playing at 4 years old. My inspiration was my mom (Laurie Baker). She played college softball at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and I always wanted to take after her. Once I started playing, I loved it.
What is the appeal to you?
It is a competitive atmosphere. I'm surrounded by a group of girls with same competitive drive as me, the same common goal. It is fun to play a sport that brings me joy in that way.
What is your best skill?
My best ability is hitting, but I also bring a high softball IQ and good situational awareness. I'm focusing on my leadership this year, with us having a lot of younger players on the team. Seeing girls over the years, like (former Mustangs) Jillian Herbst and Sydney McCray, lead with such passion helped me develop my leadership skills.
What have you been working to improve?
This offseason, I worked hard on my defense at every position. I was not sure where the team would need me this year. I wanted to be well-rounded at everything.
What is your favorite memory?
My sophomore year, I hit a home run in a game against Fort Myers High. Both teams were coming off state championship wins. The game was close at the time and their pitcher (Julia Knowler) was good. She's at the University of Clemson now. The energy I felt while rounding the bases, the support from my team, made it one of my favorite memories. (Lakewood Ranch won the game 13-0.)
Why did you commit to North Florida?
It's funny, actually. When I first started the recruiting process, I told myself I did not want to go to a Florida school. I thought I wanted to go somewhere in the Northeast. I got invited on a visit to North Florida, though, and I instantly fell in love with the campus and the coaches and atmosphere. I have former (Lakewood Ranch) teammates there; Taylor Shephard actually took me on my visit. It was a reminder of how much those girls feel like family to me.
What are Lakewood Ranch softball's expectations for this season?
With Coach Taylor (Gould) coming in, we expect to keep the bar high. She's working with us to build our chemistry and has brought a lot of positivity. I think some of our younger players will be able to fill the gaps of the players who are gone now. We still have some upperclassmen who have been there for state championship wins and can hold players accountable to that standard.
What is your favorite food?
Pasta. I'm not picky. I love a good ravioli or lasagna or spaghetti.
What is your favorite school subject?
Math, even though it can kick my butt sometimes. I'm pursing a business and marketing major in college, so I need math. I also took Spanish up until the AP-level class and I enjoyed that as well.
What is your favorite movie?
"The Blind Side" is a good one.
What are your hobbies?
I like going to the beach. I also play pickleball with my friends a lot.
Which superpower would you pick?
Teleportation. I could go anywhere I wanted with the snap of a finger.
What is the best advice you have received?
Coach TJ (Goelz) and his staff always told us, 'Don't be afraid to fail.' If you are trying to push your limits, you are not going to be perfect every time. Being afraid limits how far you can go. (Goelz stepped down from the program following the 2022 season.)
Finish this sentence: "Grace Shaw-Rockey is …"
Outgoing. I can make bonds with people to help them feel comfortable.