Softball is a pitcher’s sport.
Even the best offensive and defensive teams fall short when they don’t have a player in the circle who can dominate an opponent.
If Kallie Erwin’s early varsity performances are an indication, the L.D. Bell Lady Raiders are in great shape for this season and three more.
The freshman began her varsity career with a pair of no-hitters before the Lady Raiders played their first district game. She has established herself as a dominant high school pitcher, getting even stronger in league play.
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“Obviously, when you have a good pitcher coming, you hear about her, and I went and watched her,” Lady Raiders coach Thomas Shives said. “Then in the fall she just competed well.
“But then, you’ve got to hope she can succeed in 6A ball — and she can.”
Erwin, now 15, began playing softball at age 8. She also plays outfield and shortstop, but her specialty is pitching.
She also plays club ball for Bat Busters 16-U. It was with that organization that she built the reputation that preceded her at Bell.
“I know that I’m held to a high standard, but I just want to fit in and do what I can to help the team,” she said.
She’s helping, all right.
Erwin struck out 17 while no-hitting highly touted Lutheran South Academy, a game that, ironically, ended in a 0-0 tie. She had 12 strikeouts in another game, and 10 in another.
“She probably has exceeded expectations,” Shives said, adding, “She’s still learning. Everything at this level is new to her.”
But she’s learning fast, though Erwin admitted to being uncertain at first.
“I knew a couple of the girls and that helped, but I was a little nervous,” she said. “I’m a lot more comfortable with all the girls and coaches now.”
Throwing a couple of no-hitters will do that. She was hopeful of getting a spot on varsity this spring, given her play at the end of last year.
“In the fall season I was rotating in with the varsity, so I thought there might be a chance,” Erwin said. “We had tryouts in January, and I was pretty excited.
“But it was really nice to find out for sure.”
Erwin said the biggest adjustment to varsity is adapting to the playing level and getting into a rhythm. She’s getting lots of help, though.
“Every day I learn something new from those in the grades above me,” she said.
Shives said that while her statistics are very impressive, even more impressive is how she’s handling such a big step in her head.
“The physical part is not the hardest part for a freshman. They’ve been playing a long time. It’s the mental part they have to conquer,” he said.
“She comes from a good family, and she handling the mental part well also. She has to continue doing that, but she seems like she’s handling herself very well.”