Softball pitching staff relentless, determined on the field

photo of Aaron Bartlett Sports Editor
Aaron Bartlett
Mesa Legend

“Pitchers are important to softball because the sport was designed to be played off a pitched ball, the game doesn’t start until a ball is pitched,” said Robert Villegas, pitching coach for the Lady T-Birds.  As a teen I was introduced to fast pitch softball and from the first pitch I batted against I fell in love with the game.  I’ve coached young girls and women’s fast pitch teams as well as Co-Ed fast pitch teams.  What sticks out most to me when I look at the 2015 MCC Softball pitching staff is their relentless and determination from the first pitch to the last pitch of each game.   Even though each practice has a certain focus the advice is always the same:  Hit our spots, be consistent and throw with confidence.

Pitching coach.
Pitching coach Robert Villegas.

MCC Softball has five pitchers each with their own personality on and off the field.  For example, one is recognized by her raw strength and leadership, another by the intensity she brings to the game, yet another is more centered and focused, one enthusiasm is unmatched, and the last one’s determination is highly visible.  Brylee Coplan-Kay playing softball started when she started playing t-ball at age five.  My mom was a coach, so I’ve always been around the game and she taught me to pitch.  “I don’t think there wasn’t really a single moment that I knew I wanted to be a pitcher,” said Coplan-Kay.  From day one, my mom always said “no what-ifs”.  That meant to play hard and go all out, that way at the end of the game you weren’t beating yourself up saying could’ve, would’ve, should’ve.

“To me hard work, confidence, leadership, and a clear head would make a good college softball pitcher,” said Coplan-Kay.  When I moved home from Utah to get married, I still wanted to play and Coach Hill gave me that opportunity to tryout here at MCC.  “As a pitcher you have control of the game, you set the pace as well as the attitude of your team,” said Coplan-Kay.  Also (you) are the center of attention, everyone is watching (you), so (you) have to be an example for your teammates.  During the game I have learned to only think about three things to stay focused:  What pitch I’m throwing, where the play is, and smiling.  “I always try to keep my warm-up the same from game to game as long as it’s working for me,” said Coplan-Kay.  This season, two things stick out to me about MCC softball:  The first is the idea that we can always get better, every single day, the final is to value the opportunity in which we play every day like it’s our last, in all of this our coaching staff makes sure to emphasize this to us.

MCC pitching staff.
Brylee Coplan-Kay, Shiniya Henry, Samantha Christensen, Nikki Verdugo, and Kaylee Romo, Lady T-Birds pitching staff.

In the future after I get to spend quality time traveling and enjoying life with Bryce, I want to focus on starting a family and being a mother.  The one thing I like about pitching is the control you get when you pitch.  I don’t have to worry about where the ball is going to be hit like other fielders or where the pitch will be like batters do.  I have complete control and that gives me confidence.  “One thing that I find challenging in softball is switching from pitching underhand to throwing overhand in the matter of seconds,” said Coplan-Kay.  It’s more mental than anything but it’s always been a bit of a struggle for me.   For me my mind is my biggest enemy when I’m in the right mindset everything works out for me.  “Three words that come to mind that would describe my pitching style are: Relentless, passionate, and unfazed ,” said Coplan-Kay.

Many people assume that pitchers have the most pressure in the game of softball.  This maybe is true but for me I think catchers have the most pressure and responsibility.  They have to catch everything we throw and were definitely not perfect.  Also they have to call out the plays, communicate signals, and watch runners on top of all that in order to make us look good, now that’s pressure.  “Looking form the outside one would not know that I already have one associate degree and that I’m kind of shy, at least until I get to know you ,” said Coplan-Kay.  Some things I would tell future softball pitchers here at MCC is to  Trust your team, trust your hard work, and trust yourself.  So if you trust yourself to do what you practiced then rely on your team to do the rest that is when you find success.

Growing up in Shelley, Idaho Mesa Lady T-Bird Samantha Christensen started off playing tee ball then moving on to coach pitch and the graduating to fast pitch when she was only eight years old.  “At eight I was put in as a pitcher and soon after that I feel in love with pitching,” said Christensen.  In order for one to be a successful college softball pitcher it take a lot of mental preparation, dedication, hours and hours of practice, and a good pitching coach.  In looking at the coaching staff and being able to play in warm weather all year round I decided that MCC was the school for me to go to.  Currently two schools I’m considering going to after my time here at Mesa are Weber State or BYU.  To me pitching is defined by my a quote by my pitching coach  “It starts in the circle and ends in the circle.”  “Before the games when I am warming up, I take a moment to visualize myself going through each of my pitches,” said Christensen.

For me success as a pitcher isn’t always defined whether you win or lose but how well you can perform in each situation.  The friendships I have made and coaching staff are two things that stick out to me about MCC Softball.  My major here at MCC is Business, because one day I want to own my own business.  “The reason why I like to pitch is that I enjoy the challenge of making each pitch the best that I can pitch ,” said Christensen.  Three words that I would use to define myself would be, dedicated, completive, and trustworthy.  In my free time, when I am home I like riding horses, shooting my bow and guns, and hanging out with my family.  “Looking at me someone would not know that I am the oldest of 7 kids ,” said Christensen.   This season the overall goal of MCC softball is to be playing the best softball that our team can play by the end of the season.

“Our coaching staff is committed, dedicated, disciplined, they are always very positive, and wanting the best for each individual and team as a whole night or day,” said Christensen.   With this coaching staff the future for MCC softball is very bright.  It is only going to get better every year, there will be outstanding athletes, who will have the coaching staff to help them reach their full potential.  Currently MCC Softball has a combined total of 87 strikeouts on the year with a combined 5.66 ERA.

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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