This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is freshman pitcher Gracie Walker.
This season, Walker helped the Lady Panthers tie for the Big 8 Championship by going 8-5 in the circle with a 2.90 ERA. She won her first varsity start on March 12, throwing five shutout innings in a 12-0 victory at East Chapel Hill.
Walker’s signature performance came on March 28 when she defeated Cedar Ridge 6-4 at Orange softball field. After giving up three runs in the first inning, Walker surrendered only one run off five hits in the final six innings.
At one point this year, Walker won six consecutive starts. On May 1st, she defeated East Chapel Hill 13-3 in Hillsborough to officially give Orange a share of the conference title for the third time in four years.
On May 8, Walker earned a victory in her first state playoff game. Facing the Jacksonville Cardinals, Walker surrendered only one run, delivering a complete game while striking out eight as the Lady Panthers advanced 4-1.
On Friday night in a 2-1 loss to top-ranked D.H. Conley in eight innings, Walker held the Vikings scoreless through the first five innings. Both runs she surrendered were unearned in seven-plus innings of work.
This season, Walker teamed with catcher Lauren Jackson to comprise an all-freshman battery for Orange. Walker also had 34 plate appearances this season, hitting .414 with 12 hits.
Next season, Walker and the rest of the Lady Panthers will take aim to another Big 8 Championship, losing only two starters from this year’s team.