CEDAR RAPIDS — Avery Guy is a leadoff hitter, and an extraordinary one.
A senior shortstop at Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Guy is the she-goes, they-go table-setter for the state’s most prolific offense.
But the batting order is about the only place you’ll find her front and center.
“She always puts herself second, in everything she does,” Jefferson softball coach Brian Erbe said. “Everything she does is for someone else. She’s always thinking of a teammate, a classmate, a teacher, an administrator.
“She has that inner confidence, but it never comes out as bragging or arrogance. It’s a blessing to have her.”
Jefferson will make its 23rd appearance at the Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge — the third-ranked J-Hawks (38-4) open with No. 6 Urbandale (31-8) in a Class 5A quarterfinal at 7:30 Tuesday night — and it’s Guy’s fourth trip in five years.
She was a pinch runner as an eighth-grader, moved to second base as a freshman, then has been at shortstop ever since.
“Shortstop is like my home,” said Guy, who has signed at Des Moines Area Community College.
Guy has good range and a strong arm. She also does what a leadoff hitter should do.
She gets on base (her .597 on-base percentage is third-best in Class 5A). She scores runs (66 this season, the most in 5A and second-most of anybody in any class).
“She sets the tone,” said classmate and first baseman Kennedy Dighton.
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A first-team all-stater in 2016, Guy was named the player of the year in the MVC Mississippi Division after leading the J-Hawks to a 25-1 league record this season. She also is the all-Metro player of the year.
“She has power and speed, but she’s unselfish,” Erbe said. “She’ll happily take a walk, or knock out a single up the middle. She’s a very smart hitter, she’ll make adjustments during an at-bat.”
* * *
Avery Guy is a leader, but a somewhat hesitant one.
“She’s so quiet, so shy,” said her father, Willie Guy, whose ebullience didn’t completely rub off on his daughter. “She’s 18, and she’s had a car since she was 16. But if she’s not at practice or at school, her car is probably parked in our driveway.”
Willie Guy played football at the University of Iowa under Hayden Fry in the early 1990s. His wife and Avery’s mother, Julie, was a competitive swimmer. As Avery began club sports, their first message was one of “no excuses.”
“When she was young, she’d be at an AAU basketball or softball tournament and the last game would start at 6 o’clock or something in Kansas City,” Willie said. “We’d get home late, but we didn’t let her sleep in the next morning. She was going to get up and go to school.”
Avery graduated with a 4.0 grade point average and a high score on her ACT. She got more than discipline from her parents.
“You could just tell she had a mind for the game, even when she was little,” Erbe said. “Quick feet, and smart as a whip.”
Guy isn’t a big talker, but her presence is obvious.
“She leads by example,” Dighton said. “She holds everybody accountable. We need somebody to keep us in line.”
Erbe said, “She recognizes that her body language and her attitude are contagious.”
Guy changed her uniform number this season, from 13 to 11. It was a change made in remembrance.
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One of her friends, Payton Cook, died in a car accident last year. He was 17.
“We grew up together,” Guy said. “He wore No. 11, so I switched.”
She also remembers Cook when she looks at her left wrist, on which is tattooed a Bible verse, Philippians 1:3 — “I thank my God every remembrance of you.”
Guy started off the season ablaze, and her on-base percentage hovered around .700 at the midpoint. But the law of averages eventually caught up with her.
“It was bound to happen eventually,” she said. “But I got a couple hits (in last week’s regional-final win over Dubuque Hempstead), so I feel like I’m back.”
Erbe has noticed that Guy has been more quiet than usual lately. Reflective.
“I don’t think she wants it to end,” he said.
She admits, she’ll miss it.
“I’m lucky to have gone to Jefferson,” she said. “The overall atmosphere and community, the coaches and teammates ... to have that kind of support, it’s just great.”
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