Catawba proves natural fit for Naturile
While growing up, Natalie Naturile tried a number of different activities like a lot of girls her age. So, when she finally landed on softball, she probably never guessed the reaction it would cause.
“When I told my dad I wanted my first glove, he was so excited. We went to the store immediately,” she recalls with a big smile. “Because, you know, it started out as dance and cheer. So, once I told him that, he was so excited, he couldn’t help it.”
Now, years later, all the games she’s played, all the practices and workouts she’s done, all that hard work she and her family have done for her love of playing the game – it’s all been worthwhile, as the East Davidson standout has signed to play softball with Division-II Catawba College.
“I’m so excited,” says Naturile, the daughter of Nathan and Kathy of Thomasville. “I don’t really know if words can express how excited I am. But I’m so excited to go someplace with girls I’ve played with before – it’s like a family there. That’s what they showed me every time I went there.”
Naturile, a versatile infielder who mainly plays shortstop and who hits leadoff, was twice named All-Central Carolina Conference. She missed her entire sophomore season with a shoulder injury. So, her return to leading the Golden Eagles while also landing a spot with Catawba has been impressive.
“She’s been successful because of her having the goal of doing what she just did (signing) and working towards it,” East Davidson coach Amanda Akins says. “There are a lot of kids who say, ‘I want to go to college and play ball,’ but that’s not a realistic goal for everybody.
“But she set her heart on doing it, and she’s worked her butt off to get there. She’s spent extra time at practice hitting; she’s spent extra time taking ground balls; she’s talked a lot about her game, verbalizing it so we can work on it. ... Whether it’s conditioning or skills, she puts in the extra effort.”
When it came time to make her decision, Naturile, who has also played volleyball and basketball at East, narrowed her choices to include schools like Coastal Carolina and Pfeiffer. But it was Catawba, with which she’d had contact through her travel coach for many years, that clicked.
“It was close to home, small class sizes, and the people,” says Naturile, who wants to go into nursing. “It’s their attitudes towards what they’re there for, and that’s what lured me there. … I’m so looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to seeing the workouts I’ll have to do.
“As much as people hate to work out, I’m looking forward to seeing what I’m going have to do there. I’m so excited to see who I’m going to be playing. And the new competition – I think that’s what even more exciting – and playing with new people. I think that it’s going to be exciting.”