Resting Pitch Face: Softball 2017

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Cameron Jantsch

Pitch after pitch, senior Brooklyn Walters grabs another ball. She throws over and over, each time focusing on controlling her ball movement. She can feel her arm getting tired but reminds herself, “You just have to keep throwing until you get it.” With each pitch her confidence grows, and each pitch allows her to improve her overall contribution to the team. 

The girls’ softball team has struggled in years past with a lack of pitchers, which often tested the defense during games. Most of the players were young and inexperienced, making winning a challenge. But over the past few years, Coach Chip Ufford and his staff had been training underclassmen as pitchers, such as then sophomores Brooklyn Walters and Fallon Herrick, with the hopes of developing a strong pitching rotation. 

“When I first got here, we only had one pitcher in the program, Brooklyn, and she was a sophomore,” Ufford said. “So we had to develop her and worked on developing some other younger pitchers.”

Walters had planned to quit pitching her sophomore year but decided to continue due to a lack of pitchers at East. Ufford worked on developing Walters and the other underclassmen pitchers not only on skill but also having confidence in their own abilities.

“Half of it is mental and believing the you can pitch as well as everyone else, and the other half is the time and effort you put in,” now senior Fallon Herrick said. “You have to have the confidence to go up there and be like ‘Okay, I can do this.’”

Confidence was key in one of the tougher games against SM West of Walter’s sophomore year. The bases were loaded, the score was tied, no outs. Any walks or hits and East lost the game. But standing on the mound ready to throw her next pitch, Walters focused. I cannot let this happen. The pressure was all on her.

With more experience came an increased comfort on the mound. The team went from having not one player who solely pitched, to having five confident pitchers who they trusted to help them win. While pitching may have seemed like just one of many positions on the field, many considered it one of the most important ones. 

“You have to have pitching. I don’t care how good your defense is or how good your offense is, if you don’t have good pitching you’re gonna be in trouble,” Ufford said. “I know teams that have had awful defenses but a great pitcher, and the defense is never tested because no one ever hits the ball.”

By focusing on training young pitchers up, Ufford and his staff developed confident softball players that their teammates trusted and would make winning a reality, hoping to  achieve the goal of a strong softball program at East.