“We’re looking forward to our pitchers just being able to throw strikes,” Sherbert said. “When you’ve got these good-hitting teams like Ragland down there waiting on you, you’ve got to throw pitching strikes. You can’t throw what we call ‘rude strikes,’ right down the pipe. They’ll tear it up. We’ve got to keep the ball down, and if we keep the ball down and we throw strikes, I think we’ve got a chance to play with anybody up there.”
Freshman Haydn Hughes would likely be considered the team’s ace pitcher. She pitched a considerable portion of the team’s games in Regionals last season as an eighth grader.
“In Regionals, I pitched most of the games,” Hughes said. “I pitched more than half. But I thought I did great last year for an eighth grader. I was honored to be an eighth grader and in Regionals. I mean, first year, you know? It all came to me so fast. I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m actually doing this.’ I was excited.”
Hughes seems to thrive on pressure situations, and at a young age. Meanwhile, the team’s other starting pitcher, sophomore Lauren Guy, is hoping she was able to work out her nerves earlier this season.
“Whenever I get put on the mound I just have to think that my defense will back me up, and I cannot get it in my head to be nervous,” Guy said. “I was at the beginning of the year, nervous on the mound. But as the season’s went on, I’ve gotten really comfortable on the mound. I’ve gotten a lot better. I fixed my stance pitching because I had a little rough patch, but I’m good now.”
Sherbert acknowledged Hughes has been his most consistent pitcher, but also noted the team will still depend heavily on Guy.
“They’ve had their ups and downs, like most pitchers do all year long,” Sherbert said. “I’d have to say Haydn’s probably been our most consistent. We went to Ragland and we played a tournament. We played four games that day and she was a warrior on the mound for us. She really came through. It was great to see Lauren come out in the area tournament—that was the second game—and come in, and I think she pitched to three or four batters and mowed two or three of them down. I’d like for Lauren get her consistency back. I know she’s really working hard, and we’re going to need her. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
One of the team’s senior leaders, first baseman Summer Guy, noted Hughes’ consistency and the overall strength of pitching for this season’s team.
“With the pitchers, they’re doing awesome,” she said. “We have struggled with pitchers in the past. We’ve always struggled with that. We have a lot of young girls—our team is pretty young—that have really stepped it up. So, I’m really proud of them. They’ve done awesome. They’re pretty consistent. Our main pitcher—Haydn Hughes—she’s really consistent.”
The team’s third pitcher is junior Amber Harris, who pitches mainly in relief and also plays outfield. When Hughes and Guy aren’t pitching, they alternate between left field.
“This season I haven’t pitched a lot because Haydn and Lauren have been doing so good, but whenever I do get to pitch it’s different from them,” Harris said. “They say I’m the ‘closing’ pitcher. They like to put me in at the end of the game whenever we get up on ourselves more. I’m faster than them, but I don’t have as many pitches as them. They put me in just so I can close it out and finish it for them.”
Harris actually prefers closing over starting.
“I like just coming in and finishing better because you’ve already got this much done, and you haven’t worked that much and now you get to come on the mound and just finish it off,” Harris said. “It’s just refreshing.”
Lauren Guy believes having the right mindset is crucial for a pitcher.
“It’s more of a mental game than it is physical because you don’t just have the physical ability to do it; you have to get your head right to do it,” she said. “That’s probably most of our pitchers’ problem is getting our head right before we pitch. Because we all have the ability to do it; it’s whether we get our head right to do it.”
Hughes has to be completely in the moment to pitch well.
“I clear everything out of my head,” she said. “I just focus on me and my catcher, just me and the mitt, just try to get the ball in there and make sure I strike them out or they hit a ball and my defense is back for me.”
The mental aspect of pitching has also paid off for Hughes as a hitter when trying to get inside the mind of the opposing pitcher.
“I can kind of figure out what she’s thinking, what she’s fixing to throw,” Hughes said. “I can tell how her hand is moving. I can tell how she’s going to put the hand on the ball. I can tell what she’s going to do. If I have two strikes on me, mostly she’s going to throw a changeup.”