McNary student leads Preps Academy to 18U title

On the arm of Gracie Laukkanen, Preps Academy brought home the USA Softball 18U A Western National Championship.

Laukkanen went 6-0 in the tournament, striking out 34 in 39 innings, and allowed just six earned runs. She finished with a 1.11 ERA and held opposing batters to a .202 average.

In the championship game, she allowed five hits and one run as Preps Academy finished the game 10-1 in five innings. Laukkanen allowed just two hits in the semi-final, striking out eight in seven innings.

Her dominant performance in the tournament was an improvement on her already solid summer where she finished with a 3.93 ERA in 90 innings, with opposing teams batting .285 against her.

But despite the accomplishment, Laukkanen may be unknown to those that pay attention to McNary athletics. According to Preps Academy head coach Cara McCarthy, Laukkanen recognized she wouldn’t get playtime behind the strong varsity pitching on the Lady Celtics roster, and instead of playing JV as a junior she chose to focus on training.

As a result, according to McCarthy, Laukkanen added almost 5 MPH to her velocity and has drawn interest from multiple colleges to continue her playing career after graduation in 2024.