North Texas Daily

Softball pitching staff looking for consistency

Softball pitching staff looking for consistency

Softball pitching staff looking for consistency
April 08
23:16 2015

Saad Yousuf / Staff Writer

For the Mean Green, pitching has been just about as inconsistent as the weather in North Texas.

There have been high points, such as freshman Monique Garcia’s historic start to her collegiate career and the shutout win against No. 7 Baylor University on Feb. 20. But North Texas is not in the top 10 in Conference USA in ERA, opposing batting average or batters struck out.

However, head coach Tracey Kee is optimistic about the potential of the pitching staff.

“I don’t think our record and our numbers is a direct indication of how this group is,” Kee said. “In my opinion, I’ve been in this profession 20 plus years, and these four pitchers have unbelievable potential, talent and they’re all very different.”

In the first season without All-American pitcher Ashley Kirk, the team took a different approach. Instead of one pitcher handling the load, it’s been much more of a group effort. For Kee, having one stud pitcher is great, but she said that’s not necessarily  where she sees the game going.

“Everybody wants that All-American pitcher, but those don’t come around very often,” Kee said. “Ashley Kirk was a very special pitcher and a special kid. The way the hitting game is going on in college, having four different ones and pitching by committee, it’s really beginning to head in that direction.”9_pitchers_web2

Senior pitcher Madison Thompson rockets the ball into home plate against Nicholls State University. Thompson pitched four scoreless innings during the game. File Photo by Edward Balusek

One of the four pitchers Kee has relied on is sophomore transfer Stacey Underwood from McLennan Community College. Underwood currently has a 6-4 record and leads the team with a 3.91 ERA. She said having four capable pitcher provides more flexibility for the team.

“Well it doesn’t put as much pressure on one pitcher,” Underwood said. “I think if one pitcher can take the whole game, that’s good, but it’s good to know you have other people.”

As far as developing the younger players, Kee said her secret is building on what the pitchers already know, and not introducing too much new information.

“For me, all I try to do is take their current motion and build on it. Every pitcher is different,” Kee said. “If you look at our pitchers, all four of them mechanically throw different and some coaches don’t like to do that. Some want them all pitching the same way.”

Senior pitcher Madison Thompson said one of her favorite things about Kee is how much of a player’s coach she is.

“The best thing about coach Kee is that she wants us to learn from our pitching and be able to fix our own mistakes,” Thompson said. “She’s really open in communication and does a really good job of helping us learn where our weaknesses are and what we need to learn.”

Thompson, a returning pitcher from last year, said the pitchers have shown positive signs, but they haven’t reached their maximum potential.

“I think it’s been inconsistent so far,” Thompson said. “We’re not performing at the level we need to be at.”

Thompson played with Kirk last year, and said Kirk’s pitching isn’t all the staff is missing.

“I think the biggest thing we miss is the leadership,” Thompson said. “She was the main pitcher for like four or five years here so she had that swag, that leadership. I think that’s one thing that us as pitchers really have to work on. We are very young.”

With about a month left until the C-USA tournament, Kee said she’s still evaluating the talent she has.

“I think right now we’re realizing that roles can shift. There are times I’ve asked them to be starters, and there have been times they had to come in as a relief pitcher,” Kee said. “I think for me as a coach, it’s just figuring out who’s throwing the best because we have been quite inconsistent on the mound.”

Thompson said the talent and skills of the pitching staff aren’t lacking, but the team needs to go forward with more head than arm.

“If we don’t have a good presence on the mound, things are going to fall apart,” Thompson said.

Featured Image: Sophomore pitcher Stacey Underwood lunges forward and winds through her pitching motion against Southern Mississippi University on March 15. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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