McCraw receives scholarship

Cali McGraw (right) was selected as the 2021 recipient of the Allyson Brandy Grabowski Memorial Volleyball Scholarship at MCHS. Grabowski’s aunt Dena Hopkins recently made the presentation.

To say that Massac County’s Cali McCraw stands out would be an understatement.

To say that she is a “standout” would be just the unvarnished truth.

After leading her Lady Patriots softball team to the state finals in Peoria and ultimately to a third-place finish on the big stage, McCraw was recently honored by The Southern Illinoisan as its softball Player of the Year.

At 6’3”, McCraw is hard to miss in a crowd. After you’re around her a while, you kind of take the physical attributes for granted. She’s tall and strong and a “masterful mixer” from the pitcher’s rubber. But it’s the other parts of her makeup that you notice after a while. She’s funny, vocal, unafraid and sometimes just a little “ditzy.” I think that’s what is so endearing about her. It’s hard to predict what’s coming next with her.

Her accomplishments on the field this year were about as good as it gets. She pitched to a 19-1 record, a microscopic earned run average — literally: she gave up three earned runs in 135 innings — and stood out in big games.

On the other side of the ball, McCraw led the team in home runs and drove in 41 runs while batting a cool .400.

All of the on-field accomplishments have given McCraw the opportunity to further her softball career at Evansville’s University of Southern Indiana where she wants to prepare for a career in occupational or physical therapy.

She has a very personal reason for her career choice. Her uncle Adam Schneider was in a devastating car wreck just outside of Carbondale in early 2005. The accident left him paralyzed and ended his baseball career. I remember Adam stopping by the American Legion field here in Metropolis one evening and telling us he missed the game badly and wanted to try out for the semipro Tradewater Pirates over in Dawson Springs, Kentucky. We played catch for a few minutes, and we told him to go for it. He was plenty good enough to pitch at that level. It wasn’t long after that we heard about Adam’s accident.

McCraw expressed a heart-felt sentiment that rings true with her: “I love helping people!”

Congratulations, Player of the Year, Cali McCraw.

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