(L-R) Juniors Zoe Freier and Caroline Landis share a laugh in the gardens. Photo: Charlie Hirsch

New students in the Arthur M. Blank Family Upper School usually join the Pace community on the first day of classes. For student-athletes and new members of the Class of 2020 Caroline Landis and Sasha Ratliff, however, their contributions began before school even started, practicing with their squads in the late summer.

Landis hails from Katy, Texas, and before that from Atlanta, and before that from Charlotte, and before that from San Ramon, California. Though schools and cities often change for Landis due to her father’s job at Coca-Cola, one constant remains: softball. “After school, I go to Pace practice, and then after that, I go to my travel team’s practice,” said Landis. She recently joined Team Georgia out of Cumming and anticipates the competition of the Georgia Fastpitch softball league when the school season ends.

Ratliff was born and raised in Atlanta and transferred to Pace from St. Francis High School in Alpharetta. Similar to Landis, Ratliff’s extracurriculars have one main focus. “Most of my life revolves around volleyball,” said Ratliff. She plays the middle position for the A5 Volleyball Club but also balances the rigor of a Pace education. “I came to Pace because I knew it was more challenging academically, and it would help me prepare for college better,” said Ratliff. Outside of the time-consuming practices and homework, Ratliff relaxes by going places with friends and watching Netflix, or in her words, “the normal high school thing.”

The two athletic juniors do not shy from the liberal arts education Pace offers. Ratliff’s favorite subjects are history and literature, and Landis especially enjoys Harkness discussions with Ms. Barbakow in AP Literature. Their home lives, though, could not be more different. Landis’s one sister is in college, so her house is generally peaceful. Ratliff, on the other hand, has five siblings. “All I know is that it is usually loud and crazy in my house,” she said.

Landis has played in 17 Knights games so far, helping to notch nine victories. With a 57 mph fastball, she has found immediate success in her role as ace. Ratliff is ineligible to play this year due to GHSA transfer regulations, but the defending state champions added a player with 434 kills last year alone. With a 120-inch approach jump and 112-inch block jump, her prowess will be on display on the Inman Center court next year.