Fairmont Cardinal freshman Tieryn Arens is used to playing with teammates older than herself.
With two older brothers, the youngest of the Arens family has had plenty of experience being the youngest on any team and this year is no different.
"Trason played Kiwanis baseball when he was younger and my parents were the coaches, and they needed a player one game and I was there," said Tieryn. "I was too young to play softball then, so I played baseball for the first few years."
PROTECTING THE PLATE — Fairmont catcher Tieryn Arens (right) awaits an incoming throw as a Jackson County Central runner nears the plate during nonconference softball action on April 16 at Cardinal Park in Fairmont. Arens was selected as KEYC-TV’s Prep Athlete of the Week on Wednesday for her recent performances on the prep diamond. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)
As a 9-year-old, Arens started playing 12U softball, and it didn't take long for her to find a place on the diamond.
"The coaches thought because I was taller that they wanted me to pitch, so I tried that," said Arens. "When that didn't work they moved me to third base, but I never liked fielding bouncing grounders. So they moved me to catcher, and as long as I'm padded up, I don't worry about the ball."
In her first complete season with the Fairmont varsity softball team, Arens was tabbed KEYC-TV's Prep Athlete of the Week on Wednesday for her skills behind the plate.
Arens has found a way to use her size and skills from the catcher's position by throwing out opposing runners on the base paths during the spring season's early stages.
"When we played New Ulm this season at home, I threw out two girls. The first one tried to steal second, and the second one led off too far on first and as a threw it, she was like a deer in the headlights. She was just so shocked that I threw it, she didn't know what to do," said Arens.
Offensively, Arens also is a threat, hitting 9-for-29 on the season for a .319 batting average, including smashing three doubles in addition to collecting three RBIs and scoring four runs.
"Tieryn has been playing up a level for softball since she was younger. I think that she's used to that now and she does a great job for us behind the plate," said Fairmont head softball coach Terry Ehlert. "At times, I think it can be hard to be the younger player on the team, but she handles it well."
Last summer, Arens - along with a few of her current varsity teammates - took home third place at the 16U Junior Olympic Amateur Softball Association/Minnesota Metro Fastpich League 16D State Tournament. With that momentum, Arens is hoping that the Cardinals can continue to be successful this season.
"I think overall we are a good team. We can hit pretty well and we have decent pitching. It'd be great if by the end of the season we could beat New Ulm in the playoffs," said Arens.
Currently, the Cardinals are on a four-game winning streak and hope to eventually crack the .500 mark.
With her cannon-like throwing arm, Arens will certainly keep opponents on their toes while on base, giving the Cardinals extra chances for outs.
"I think this season she has had five or six pick-offs. She has a great throw when it comes to throwing people out and she is always watching and observing when to go for it," said Ehlert.
Her observations also have become helpful for the pitchers, creating more challenges for opponents.
"While I catch, I pay attention to where the batter stands, how they swing. Then I try to kind of adjust our pitches from there," said Arens.
In addition to her observation and throwing prowess, Arens also has quick reflexes to steal outs on high fly balls.
"When I'm going for a foul ball, I don't really hear or see anything other than the ball," said Arens. "I think one time it would be really cool to dive for one."
For the Cardinals, having an observant and competitive catcher is helping make an already good defense even better.
With Arens - who celebrates her 15th birthday today - behind the plate and her quick throwing release, opposing softball teams will be cautious on the base paths for seasons to come.