Davee McLeod isn’t just any Havre High senior to navigate through the Blue Pony softball program the last four years.
Yes, McLeod has been a permanent varsity fixture since her freshman season. And yes, as a freshman, McLeod was a key player in the Ponies’ last state tournament run. But taking into account what McLeod has done for the program over the last four years, all that is just the tip of the iceberg.
As a Pony softball player, McLeod has proven her talents. She is a two-time Academic All-State award honoree, as well as leading the team in batting average as a sophomore. Also as a sophomore, she was named First-Team All-Conference before following those accolades with the Second-Team All-Conference award she earned as a junior a year ago.
This season, her senior, and final, prep season is almost over, but McLeod is once again on track to earn even more accolades, team or other.
But with another season of her 12 years of softball experience winding down, it isn’t her on-the-field play that has set her apart from past Pony greats. Instead, it is her passion for the game and her unique knack for being a leader.
“Davee really is irreplaceable,” Havre High first-year head coach Danny Wirtzberger said.
“She is a great girl, and is the kind of girl that makes everybody around her better. She has really good softball sense and comes from a softball family, and stuff like that, you really can’t teach because she just has so much softball sense.
“I am honored that I got to coach her,” Wirtzberger added. “We were talking last summer about softball and the team, and I did some pitching with Davee, and once I saw her pitch and saw her enthusiasm for the team, I thought, ‘If half the girls have any of her enthusiasm towards the game, I am putting in for the coaching job, and I want it.’ I just can’t say enough about her and her passion for the game. She is right up there with some of the best leaders I have coached over the last six or seven years of coaching.”
Her willingness to do whatever the team needed from her as a freshman was really what got McLeod started on a road to leadership.
She began her Pony career as a second baseman, but quickly found her abilities taking her to other infield positions, as well as the outfield. Her pitching also took off over the last two seasons, making her a staple in the pitching rotation, and as an extremely reliable ace.
It didn’t, and doesn’t, matter where McLeod plays. As long as she is in the lineup, she will do whatever it takes to make the
“I will play wherever the team needs me,” McLeod said. “And that is fine by me. Softball is my main love and passion; it is what I want to do. I just want to play, and I never want to give up, I always want to be there for my team, and I want to play for well for them. At first I just wanted to play second base, and then I thought about just being a pitcher, but then it really opened my eyes. Sometimes, I was needed in the outfield to help with speed, or I was needed on the mound to help the team with getting outs. I realized that I need to play wherever coach needs me because that is what is best for the team, and that is what I can do to help out the team.”
McLeod joins a long list of great HHS leaders, and it already looks like she will be helping add to that list when she is long gone.
Former Havre High great Holly Cartwright can be included in that list of leaders, and deserves a lot of credit for helping mold McLeod. As an underclassman, McLeod looked up to Cartwright and all that she was able to accomplish. Cartwright was a great leader to McLeod and the rest of the Ponies, and McLeod took notice.
“She (Cartwright) is our coach now, and I still really looked up to her,” McLeod said. “But I really look up to her now as a coach, and I am glad she is there because she was one of my idols. I am glad she is here with us. Now the girls are always asking me, ‘How do I do this, or how do I do that,’ and I just say ‘Hold on real quick, and after this drill I can help you.’ The girls know they can ask questions, and doing that will help them in the future. I think it will show that they had a leader to look up to, and I want to be that leader.”
Players like sophomore pitcher Rachel Majeres have already taken notice, as has coach Wirtzberger.
“That is my goal when I am a senior, to be like Davee,” Majeres said. “We work better together when we are close like a family and she has been great. She shows me how to fix things with my pitching, and shows me how I can get better. She is just really helpful, and her doing that really makes you feel more comfortable. I was brought up last year to play varsity, and to know that if I need help, Davee is always there.”
“Davee is just an excellent leader,” Wirtzberger said. “And everybody follows her lead. We have a lot of juniors, sophomores, and freshmen that wouldn’t be where they are today without Davee McLeod. Rachel Majeres has a lot of coaches around her, but Davee is still one of her biggest coaches, and one of her biggest fans. That is just the kind of thing Davee does for the team.”
McLeod is slated to attend Montana State Univeristy-Billings next year, and hopefully softball is still an option. McLeod hopes to walk on and play next fall, and won’t mind continuing her utility player status to do so.
And if anybody’s passion and love of the game can carry them to the next level, McLeod would be that person.
“I really want to play,” McLeod said. “That is one of my goals. I want to walk on in the fall, and it has been an option I have always thought about. And it is like I have been doing, I want to be a utility player, I will play wherever I am needed as long as I am playing the game.”
“I have seen some college softball,” coach Wirtzberger said. “And I know she can play at that level. She probably won’t pitch, but she has a great softball sense, and I know she won’t hurt any lineup. She is a great outfielder, and I know she would have no problem succeeding at the next level if she chooses to do that.”
But first things first. Before McLeod runs off to the collegiate ranks, she still has some prep softball business to attend to. McLeod will look to take the Ponies to the state tournament for the first time since her freshman season. The Ponies finished the regular season as the No. 4 team in the Central A, but will challenge for a state berth this weekend at the Central A divisional softball tournament in Havre.