Rick’s Sports Corner: Providence’s Grace Workman, Focused

Only a junior, the pitcher/first baseman for the Pioneerrs will major in nursing and play softball for Westcliff University in Irvine.

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By Rick Assad

Playing a sport requires skill, hard work and dedication and Providence High pitcher/first baseman Grace Workman has all those ingredients.

Workman’s mother, Patti, is an assistant coach on the team and that’s a plus and also an inspiration.

“My mom was a pitcher for Oregon State University [from 1987 through 1991] and I wanted to follow in her footsteps,” said Workman, a junior who has committed to attending and playing softball for Westcliff University in Irvine where she will major in nursing. “She is a role model to me and becoming a pitcher was always the plan.”

Perhaps some might bristle at having their mother, who also made Pacific 10 honors as a senior and majored in merchandise management, on the coaching staff, but not Workman, who went 5-2 in the circle with a 2.73 earned-run average and batted .391.

“My mom has always been one of my coaches,” she noted. “She taught me from a young age that when we are on the ball field, she is the coach, and off the ball field, she is mom.”

Workman didn’t begin her high school career at Providence, but rather at Burbank High.

“I transferred to Providence because there are more opportunities for me,” she pointed out. “I wanted to play softball for Coach Manny Travieso. Coach Manny really cares about getting his players to the college level. With the help of Coach Manny, six of my teammates are expecting to sign to play college softball.”

Travieso is pleased to have Workman, who helped the Pioneers to a 21-6 overall record and a 12-0 mark in the Prep League, on his side for more than what she offers on the field.

Grace Workman is a pitcher/first baseman for Providence and helped the Pioneers to the CIF Division V playoffs. (Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

“Grace’s smile and her energetic self is contagious, and she was welcomed by all on the team,” he said. “Although we blame some of that on her love of Starbucks.”

Travieso also appreciates Workman’s athletic ability.

“Grace is a gamer. When she is on, she has a scary focus and the opponent can feel it,” he said.

Workman’s initial time in the circle for the Pioneers came on March 23, and saw her toss a one-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts versus Chadwick.

On April 3, the right-hander delivered a perfect game with 12 strikeouts against Faith Baptist.

Eight days later, Workman allowed three hits and no runs with 16 whiffs versus Mayfield and a week later she gave up one hit and no runs with 10 strikeouts against Chadwick.

Workman has no regrets about being a Pioneer.

“I am very happy with my decision to transfer to Providence,” she said. “I love the small school community, and everyone is very close. We are a family. I feel at home.”

A nifty first baseman, but perhaps an even better hurler, Workman also feels a serenity in the circle.

“I like playing both positions, but I love to pitch,” she admitted. “I have been pitching since I was seven years old.”

Staying within the game and not getting too excited is important in order to succeed.

“Honestly, I try not to overthink it,” Workman said of her mindset during the game. “I try to stay relaxed and focused during warm-ups and just play one game at a time.”

Being smart and a thinker and not getting too rattled on the field has made the game of softball somewhat easier.

“I think one of my best assets on the softball field is I have a calm demeanor in the circle,” Workman offered. “I am also a very supportive teammate.”

Grace’s mother concedes that point.

Grace Workman holds the ball with pride and confidence. (Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

“Grace transferred to Providence as a junior and worked hard to help Providence win a league title,” she said. “Grace has great composure when she is in the circle and is very supportive of the team.”

Providence played in the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs and beat Westminster 11-3 in the first round but fell 5-2 to Santa Paula in the second round.

If Workman pitches well and the Pioneers prevail, everyone gets the accolades, because for Workman, it’s a collaborative effort.

“I have been very lucky to have had the same coaches (Rich Rode, Martin Benito and my mom) since I started playing softball,” she said. “Coach Martin, Coach Rich, along with my parents have supported me all throughout my softball years.”

When the younger Workman or any pitcher needs to be spoken with, Patti Workman, who was a four-year starter for the Beavers, does that.

“Manny trusts my experience as a former Division I pitcher to lead our pitching staff,” she said. “Grace and I have an understanding when we are on the field. I am her coach and it’s all business.”

Most lessons are learned in the classroom, but they can also be garnered on the playing field.

“The game of softball has taught me many things over the years,” Workman admitted. “How to work together as a team. Sportsmanship. How to set goals and achieve them, and how to win and lose respectively.”

Though sports are fun and oftentimes thrilling, getting and maintaining a solid grade-point average is the ultimate prize because without it, few colleges are going to be interested in your services.

“School always comes first. The goal has always been to play college softball,” Workman said. “So, time management is very important. I work ahead on homework and projects whenever possible.”

This plan of action has worked so far for Workman, and it appears it will in the future.