Georgia catcher Payden Bordeau, a junior, who’s recovering from shoulder surgery and redshirting this season, will help to support the Bulldogs as they head into the SEC tournament, May 9-14 in Fayetteville, Ark.

Bordeau made her first World Series appearance as a freshman. So she has big-time tournament experience to share with the team.

After two impressive seasons, with 63 total starts, and a shoulder surgery over the summer, Bordeau transitioned into a new leadership role both off and on the field.

Here, Bordeau discusses her health and how she still plans to help the team.

(This interview has been edited for clarity.)

Q: In a perfect world when you’re not injured, what are you doing when you’re not playing or training?

A: Over COVID I learned that I can paint. So, that’s been like a weird hobby I’ve picked up. With me being like an interior design major that’s really helped my creative aspect in a way.

Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals?

A: I’m a big hair girl. I make hair TikToks all the time, so it’s just my thing. I (have to) have my hair done. I usually have different hair, but I (have to) have my braids or my bubbles or something.

Q: What is the most underappreciated responsibility of a catcher?

A: I don’t think a lot of people understand how big of a job it is for framing. I feel like that kind of gets pushed under the rug a little bit. So framing is obviously when you’re catching the pitches and just trying to make them look a little bit better than they are. So, I just feel like that aspect of catching isn’t appreciated as much.

Q: Who do you think is going to be the hardest pitcher to catch this season?

A: I mean, they’re all super talented. So, I would guess I would say, Shelby (Walters), she’s our new pitcher from Duke. I haven’t got to catch her yet. Getting to catch her either here soon or in the fall is going to be fun, but also challenging. She is really good and she throws pretty hard.

Q: What’s the best road atmosphere that you’ve played in so far?

A: I’ve got to say Florida because I am from Florida. So, I would say there just because their fans are just all in. The atmosphere is really fun. Their fans are always yelling and stuff, but it kind of just like, it makes you just appreciate how like the softball fans are…. just how involved and committed they are.

Q: Growing up, were you a Georgia fan?

A: No. I just knew I wanted to play in the SEC. My dream since I was little was to play the World Series. I think just growing up, I just wanted to be at a really high level and then coming to Georgia, I just kind of fell in love with it.

Q: What is one thing that you think this entire team has in common?

A: I would say this team compared to any other team that I’ve been on, all of us just really merge together really well. We’re all just supporting each other. It’s really hard to get that on a team because truly deep down everyone on the team wants everyone to do good. So, I just feel like everyone’s wanting each other to do their absolute best. That’s just really helped with the culture of our team.

Q: What was your World Series appearance like your first year at Georgia?

A: Yeah, so we got there and obviously, the stadium’s huge. There are so many people, but we even talked about this the other day at practice. Everyone was just saying how the environment is so crazy, but truly, you kind of have to take a step back and you’re like, I kind of made it. I always wanted to play in the World Series. So, it was kind of like the feeling of making my little self proud. It was just a really exciting feeling and it was kind of just like, this isn’t real.

Q: What is your favorite walk-up song?

A: I’ve had the same (song since) high school, it’s RUN DMC’s ‘Run’s House.’ It’s been me and my dad’s song, I guess in a way, like, forever.

Q: What skills do you think make a catcher stand out to a coach?

A: Being a leader. I mean, also being a good teammate. You’re the one kind of running the show a little bit other than the pitcher. You’re the second person that’s always catching the ball and always in the play. So, I feel like just being a leader and knowing how to control the field in the right way is a really good characteristic to have.

Q: If you could improve on one thing the most while you’re redshirting this season, what would that be?

A: I would say the main thing I’ve really focused on is just being the best teammate I can be. Trying to support the girls who are playing and even the girls who aren’t playing as much, just being like their No. 1 supporter while I’m here and just learning the game even more.

Kayla Lopez is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.