SPRING ALL-AREA: Giebeig named LCR's Softball Player of the Year
Coming off of its first regional final appearance since 2014, this season didn’t go quite as planned for Columbia.
With high hopes of reaching the state tournament, the Lady Tigers were bounced in the opening round of the playoffs by Bartram Trail but it wasn’t for lack of effort by third baseman Story Giebeig. With her team trailing 5-0, the rising senior delivered a two-run double in the fifth inning to give her team some life.
Although the Lady Tigers lost 7-5, that at-bat epitomized Giebeig’s No. 1 characteristic — she’s ultra competitive and never gives up.
“I don’t like to lose,” Giebeig said.
“We had a rough game and the girl wasn’t really throwing that well so at the plate I was just trying to hit the ball hard.”
Columbia didn’t lose many games this season and Giebeig was a big reason why. She hit a team-best .462 and was second on the team with 30 RBI, two home runs, 25 runs scored and a .545 on-base percentage to help lead the Lady Tigers to a 21-5 record.
Oh, and she also had team-highs with 14 doubles and 15 stolen bases. Her outstanding numbers are why she’s the Lake City Reporter’s Softball Player of the Year.
“I thought it went pretty good,” Giebeig said of her season. “At the plate I just tried to put the bat on the ball and have good at-bats all season. Playing third base I just tried to make as few errors as possible.”
As team captain, Giebeig manages to show her eagerness to win while staying on an even keel at all times, never getting too high or too low in high-pressure situations. And she certainly wasn’t going down without a fight against Bartram Trail.
Giebeig energized her team with her two-run double that eventually led to Dara Gaylard’s three-run homer in the seventh inning before Columbia finally came up short. Her leadership also doesn’t go unnoticed.
“You see it in a lot of girls and you know it and they’re loud in what they do, but Story just stays calm,” Columbia coach Trudy Andrews said. “She stays composed and she’s competitive. She has that inner-fight Tiger in her that comes out and battles in whatever situation she’s put in.”
Giebeig, a Liberty commit, took over at third this season following the departure of Alaina Perry. After playing in the position for years on her travel ball team the Gainesville Gold, Giebeig slid over from second and felt right at home.
“I’ve always played third base for travel ball and for Liberty I was recruited to play third base so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I was real excited,” Giebeig said.
She didn’t disappoint either, posting a .933 fielding percentage in the hot corner.
“She was just rock solid. You can’t ask for a better third baseman out there,” Andrews said. “She’s quick, she reads the ball off the bat well, she reads the batter well and she remembers them too when they come up again where they hit it and what they do. She’s rock steady in the corner.”
Although the Lady Tigers didn’t advance as deep into the playoffs as the year before, expectations are high for 2019. Columbia only loses one starter — shortstop S.K. Lewis — and will likely be considered one of the favorites in the region next season.
“We should be strong again next year too,” Giebeig said.
She even has hopes beyond regions in her final campaign.
“I want to win a state championship.”
Class 7A all-state second-team selection, going 14-4 in the circle with a county-best 1.38 ERA and a county-best 103 strikeouts in 116.2 innings pitched with three shutouts.
Columbia, First base
Hit .303 with team-highs that included six home runs and 32 RBI. She also had nine doubles, one triple and scored 16 runs in the heart of Columbia’s lineup.
Class 7A all-state second-team selection, scoring a team-high 27 runs while batting .412 with 18 RBI and 10 doubles. She was also second on the team with 12 stolen bases.
Class 7A all-state second-team selection, batting .392 with 22 RBI, nine doubles, one homer and 15 runs scored. She also went 6-0 as Columbia’s No. 2 pitcher with a 2.89 ERA, two shutouts and 21 strikeouts in 43.2 innings.
Class 7A all-state second-team selection, batting .338 with 20 runs scored, 16 RBI, nine stolen bases and seven doubles as the team’s lone senior.
Fort White, Third base
Led the county offensively in several categories, hitting .507 with six homers, 36 RBI, 34 runs scored, 15 doubles and three triples. She also had a .521 on-base percentage.