The fate of the game rests in their hands

Cougar pitchers share the trials and tribulations of taking the mound

Mayla Gilliam, Editor in chief

Being a successful pitcher takes concentration, athleticism and determination. For the eight pitchers on the varsity baseball and softball teams, they have to show these attributes to lead their teams to victory.

This season has been full of memories for each of the pitchers. Senior Aidan Brown, who is continuing his baseball career at the University of Tampa, remembers one moment in particular in which he came through despite the pressure he was facing.

“We were playing Millbrook, and we were up to lead 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, and they brought me in. They had runners on first and second, and then I closed it out and we won,” Aidan said.

Junior Cuyler O’Neill, who is also aiming to play baseball in college, remembers using his pitching skills, such as his go-to pitch, the curve ball, in an intense game.

“Last year. Bases loaded. Nobody out against Heritage, and we were out by one run,” O’Neill said.

Senior Summer Harvey conveys that her most difficult situation as pitcher was in a game against one of the team’s rivals.

“Last year during the Heritage game, Owens put me in with the bases loaded and one out. We ended up getting out of it because I ended up turning a double play and thankfully we got out with no runs scored,” Harvey said.

Because she was able to use her six pitches to come through for her team, one moment of her high school career sticks out in the mind of softball pitcher junior Amber Saunders.

“Sophomore year we played Knightdale, and they had a really strong team. I pitched the whole game, and my screw ball was working really well. Everything just kind of clicked, and it was a good start to the season,” Saunders said.

Sophomore Emily Brown looks fondly upon her moments as a reliever for her team and says that her favorite moments are, “When I’m trying to recover the previous pitcher.” She is able to use her eight pitches in order to attempt to save or win a game.

Junior Blakely Powell’s most favored memory as a pitcher was when she was able to use her six pitches on the team for the first time.

“Probably when I got my first varsity start. That was a huge milestone for me. I’ve always wanted to pitch on varsity, and just being able to accomplish that meant a lot to me,” Powell said.

Because the goal is to lead their teams to success, the pitchers have to recover from pitching a bad inning. Sophomore Ramsey Schlafer shares her tips to overcoming struggles on the mound.

“I usually try to focus on my at bat to get my mind off pitching,” Schlafer said.
One player looks to his teammates and mentors for advice after a bad outing in order to prepare to use his go-to pitch, the fastball, against the opposing team.

“Khalil Watson talks to me, and so does Davis Powell. Coach Hales tells me what I did wrong and how to correct it,” freshman Isaac Williams said.

Senior Josh Copeland recognizes that people have bad outings. When that happens, he looks to his collective team for mental encouragement in order to use his four pitches, specifically the curveball, for a good appearance as a starter in his next game.

“It is mostly the teammates. The teammates and coaches encourage and support. We are pretty much a close knit family, and so if one person struggles, then the entire team doesn’t work efficiently. When one person struggles, then everyone goes and picks that person up so they will be good for the next game,” Copeland said. When you get to that next game, you just shake it off and leave it behind you because it’s in the past. There’s nothing you can do, so you just look towards the future.”

Even though having a successful team is the goal, the pitchers have aspects of their own careers that they want to be individually remembered for.

“I would kind of want to be remembered to not only be good on the field but off the field,” Schlafer said.
Williams wants to be remembered for his physical game, as well as his sportsmanship. He wants to “be the best left handed pitcher and to be known for my leadership.”

Copeland hopes to be remembered for a personal accomplishment, and his accomplishment in assisting his teammates.
Copeland said, “Probably being one of the team captains. Just having that leadership out in the field, making sure the team is doing everything they need to do. If it had to be a certain game, it would definitely be the Heritage game last year. We hate Heritage, and I had the last at bat, and the bases were loaded. It was a tie game, and I had the game-winning hit.”