Purple bruises and burning pain.
Ice pack after ice pack.
That is how Clark’s softball pitcher Madison Plummer described her experience of starting the season as one of only two pitchers on the team.
Plummer said she shared an arduous workload with pitcher Madison Seed, pitching in every game, all double headers, before the new addition of two more pitchers. With Seed recently injuring her ankle batting off a foul ball, and Plummer’s tendonitis flaring throughout her wrist, elbow and shoulder, the need for more pitchers was amplified.
After head coach Meghan Crouse found that outfielder Ally McCain and third baseman Shaz Nakoa-Chung pitched for their high school softball teams, Crouse assigned them to serve as pitchers on April 9.
Despite not pitching since high school and having pitched under 10 innings, both Nakoa-Chung and McCain have ERAs under 3.
McCain said she will do what she can to help out the team. “I know all the other girls [will] play wherever [they] can to get there,” McCain said in reference to the playoff tournament on May 19-22.
This mentality has been helpful on a team of only 13 players, and four players below the average NWAC South Region team size, in a game that requires nine to fill a lineup card.
Both Plummer and Seed plan to pitch through their injuries.
“It just really needs rest to feel better,” Plummer said. “It all just depends on how much I pitch.”
Moving two position players to pitchers allows her tendonitis to recover before pitching again.
When Crouse was hired last season, the team only had 12 players, all of whom were recruited by previous head coach Mandy Hill. After a new round of tryouts, Crouse said she “didn’t find any players that were up to the caliber.” Although one late addition was Lucy Yazzolino, a center fielder from Saint Martin’s University.
Of the four pitchers, only Plummer was actually recruited for that position, according to Crouse. Along with Nakoa-Chung and McCain, Seed hasn’t pitched since high school.
Seed was recruited to Clark as an outfielder but has played solely as a pitcher this season.
The new position has caused her to take online classes to accommodate practice times, Seed said. The stress has been difficult on all players, she said.
Although her appointment to a pitching role was recent, Nakoa-Chung admits the season has been tough on her as well. “Being an athlete is a full-time job,” she said.
Nakoa-Chung said she quit her part-time job to avoid scheduling issues with practice, whereas Seed said she maintains a part-time job at Kohl’s but frequently cancels shifts due to softball conflicts.
However, despite the strenuous practices and the toll on her body, Seed said it’s all worth it
“We really want to make the NWAC tournament. That [would be] huge for our program,” she said.