The Daily Princetonian caught up over Zoom with first-year softball player Cate Bade, phoning in from her home in Texas over the Thanksgiving break. Bade, who is no stranger to bright lights and large crowds, discussed her experience playing high school softball in Texas, getting an apartment in Princeton with her teammates, and the one food that she can’t live without.
The Daily Princetonian: To start this conversation, how did you get into playing softball?
Cate Bade: From a young age, my dad put a bat and ball into my hands because he played all of his life and was really into the sport. So that’s how I really got started, and I guess at some point you just never stop.
DP: What would you say are the most important qualities that a softball player must have in order to be successful?
CB: Definitely mental toughness. Softball is such a mental game because you repeatedly fail and have to learn how to pick yourself up and keep going. So just staying mentally tough is a key factor to success, and hard work and being a good teammate are really important, too.
DP: What position do you play, and what are some skills you need to excel in that position?
CB: I’m an infielder, but I can also play outfield, so I’m pretty versatile. But speed, being quick on your feet, athleticism, and good hands are pretty crucial to the game. Also, like I mentioned before, there’s a big mental component, so being aware of what’s going on and having a high softball IQ are also very valuable.
DP: What was your experience in high school like playing softball?
CB: I grew up playing high school softball in Texas, so there were big Friday night games against super competitive teams with players going to a ton of amazing places. It was just a really fun experience with all the large crowds and intensity. And you got to do it with your best high school friends by your side, so it was definitely very memorable.
DP: So, was softball a popular sport to watch in Texas?
CB: I think every sport had a lot of support because the high school athletic experience in Texas is a very big thing. So no matter what sport you played, you were on a platform where you had people watching and cheering you on.
DP: Did you win any significant championships or tournaments in high school?
CB: Yeah, my sophomore year, we won our district and ended up going to the state tournament in the highest division for Texas high school sports. We finished third, and that year we were also ranked, like, eighth in the country, which was really cool.
DP: That’s really impressive. Also, what are some of your favorite memories from playing softball so far?
CB: So that same year, in order to get to the state tournament, we had to beat the back-to-back state champions from the last two years. It ended up being a huge Friday night game with packed stands and people sitting on the stairs and by the dugouts, just trying to watch from wherever they could. It was such a tight game, but we came out on top and won 2–1. I remember after the last out, we celebrated with a dog pile and felt like we were on the top of the world. Just that feeling, I think, is one of my best memories of playing softball.
DP: On the other side of that, what would you say has been your most embarrassing moment while playing?
CB: Once, I ripped my pants in the middle of a game, which was pretty embarrassing, and I had to spend the next three innings with a rip right down the middle. Also, for my high school, we had custom-made pants that were individually tailored to us, so I didn’t really have anything else to change into.
DP: Next, what was your recruitment experience like with Princeton for softball?
CB: Well, every recruiting process is very different, but for me, I just attended some camps, later went on a visit, and ended up falling in love with Princeton and its people. So, yeah, that was basically how it went down for me.
DP: What does Princeton’s softball history look like?
CB: I would say really successful, lots of Ivy championships and tradition, and a ton of strong alumni.
DP: Have you been able to meet with your team with the pandemic going on?
CB: Yeah, they’ve been really good about doing things virtually. We have meetings around twice a week, so I get to interact with the team there. And I think that we’ve also been really good about keeping in touch over social media and text and just meeting each other whenever we can. Practice-wise, we haven’t really been able to do much with COVID-19.
DP: Where have you been staying and studying this semester?
CB: So me and the four other freshmen on the team moved up to Princeton and lived in an apartment together just so we could get a little bit of that college experience and get to know each other better. Overall, it’s been a really good experience, and my teammates have pushed me all semester to work hard in school, so having them by my side has been very helpful.
DP: Has it been difficult balancing schoolwork and your athletic commitments?
CB: I don’t think it was too hard balancing academics and athletics this semester just because there wasn’t much we could do as a team. But juggling school work and individual workouts, and adjusting to Princeton as a first-year student, was definitely not easy. There have been some late nights for sure.
DP: Did you have a favorite class that you took this semester?
CB: My favorite class was probably microeconomics. I’m definitely looking forward to exploring some new areas though next semester.
DP: Regarding that, what was your reaction to the news of Princeton bringing back its students for the spring?
CB: Shock for sure. It was really unexpected, but it was a nice surprise, and I’m super excited to be on campus next semester.
DP: Yeah, definitely an early Christmas present. So outside of softball, what are some things you like to do?
CB: I like to run and bike and just be outside in any way that I can. I also love to spend time at the lake, be with my friends, swim, and play spikeball.
DP: Now, for a few fun questions. If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
CB: Hmmm, that’s a tough one. There are so many contenders, but I would have to say either Luke Combs’s first album or Post Malone’s first album.
DP: What about if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
CB: This one’s easy. Cereal for sure.
DP: Do you have a favorite cereal?
KC: Yes, strawberry Frosted Mini-Wheats. They’re so good.
DP: I don’t think I’ve had that one, but I’ll definitely give it a go. And if you were stranded on an island, what three things would you bring with you?
CB: I don’t know if this counts as one thing, but I would bring all my friends. Also, I would bring a giant trampoline to jump on and cereal for food.
DP: Can I ask what the trampoline would be for?
CB: Well, since you're stuck on an island, you would need stuff to do. I guess there’s the beach, so actually I think I’m going to switch out the trampoline for a surfboard.
DP: I like that decision. And if you could meet any celebrity, who would it be?
CB: I think it would have to be Morgan Wallen.