• Elivia Gutierrez signs with Trinity Baptist with (from left), father Jason Gutierrez, mother Brande Gutierrez, brother Joseph Gutierrez, sister Haile Gutierrez and grandmother Cheryl O’Quinn behind her. (MARK BLUMENTHAL / Palatka Daily News)

Filling A Want And A Need

Trinity Baptist was looking for a catcher and Interlachen’s Gutierrez was looking for a place to keep playing

Elivia Gutierrez was a catcher. Trinity Baptist College was in need of a catcher.

Call it right place, right time if you will.

“I was looking for a softball teamto go play for and I went up there and they were very welcoming and inviting,” Gutierrez said. “It was like a big family.”

So the two will come together next year as Gutierrez signed a letter of intent to play for the Jacksonville college. This will be the second season for the Eagles, who finished 1-23 in their inaugural 2019 campaign.

“They wanted a catcher and they liked her,” Interlachen High School softball coach Ron Whitehurst said. “She has a great work ethic and (coach) Jammie Byrd wanted someone with a good work ethic and good grades and that was Elivia.”

Gutierrez, who chose Trinity Baptist over Webber International, was the Rams’ regular catcher as a sophomore, but in her junior year, she split time with Kortney Masters before coming back behind the play as a senior to catch her sister Halie after Masters graduated.

This past season, Gutierrez hit .375 with 17 runs scored and 19 RBI during the regular season, hitting a home run in the Rams’ wild 17-16 loss to Peniel Baptist Academy in April.

Behind the plate, Gutierrez committed just four errors for a .966 fielding percentage and threw out 41 percent of the would-be base stealers. Gutierrez, who will continue to stay busy in the offseason playing for her travel team, the Gainesville Gators, said she feels confident in gaining a possible starting position behind the plate starting next year.

“I feel like I have a shot,” said Gutierrez, who will major in business and sports management at Trinity Baptist. “If I work out and work hard, I can get that spot.”

“I think she’ll definitely fit in because she’s done travel ball,” Whitehurst said. “It may take some time for her to get used to the college pitching (to hit), but with some of the top teams we saw, she’ll be OK.”

The Rams went 8-15 this season, playing in District 2-4A where Jacksonville Trinity Christian, located on the same campus as Trinity Baptist, recently won the FHSAA 4A championship after finishing the regular season as the second-place team behind Jacksonville Episcopal.

“I’m not too worried about (playing in college),” said Gutierrez, who leaves for Trinity Baptist on Aug. 15 and starts class on Aug. 19. “I’ve caught college pitchers. I will do fine.”

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