Masterful work by pitching staff helps guide softball team

Unit shuts out three of last four opponents, allows four runs in that span

-Photos courtesy of Sports Information

Try to recall one successful team on the diamond that strutted out weak pitching.

You can’t.

That is the leading factor behind Rowan softball head coach Kim Wilson comprising the deep, gifted group of pitchers she has gracing her roster this season.

“That’s what we were hoping to do to keep people off balance,” Wilson said. “Somebody has a better screwball or riseball, then somebody else will come in and throw off-speed a little bit. So we keep teams off balance that way, which I like.”

Rowan (15-5) has the uncommon luxury of having four great arms that are capable of pitching in any situation. It’s not abnormal to see Wilson throw three pitchers during one of the team’s five-inning blowouts this season.

“We have a lot of different looks for people,” Wilson said. “Its nice to be able to look to each one and know that we could start anyone at any time and bring anybody in in any situation. We’re preparing for that so when we get down to playoff time they all have experience.”

The Profs are currently tied for 18th in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25 Poll. With a long run into the postseason expected this year, being able to comfortably rely on more than just their No. 1 starter should give Rowan a unique advantage.

The staff is spearheaded by senior Beth Ann Hyland. The ace of the unit, she uses her overpowering speed to keep hitters uncomfortable in the box.

Hyland is coming off one of her best performances in a brown and gold uniform. It was the deconstruction of the Neumann University lineup on March 24 en route to a career-high 11 strikeouts, bumping her season total up to 58 and placing her fourth in the conference in the category.

“I think [Beth Ann] could end up being one of the best pitchers that comes through our program. She’s right up there,” Wilson said.

There is no true rotation to the staff, the parts are interchangeable, but one aspect of the staff has become more clear: senior Allison Nolan moving into the closer role.

The righty willingly accepted the spot, and has done a sound job in it as she leads the conference with four saves.

“I’m more than happy to do it,” Nolan said of her role change.

Catcher Alyssa Sims describes Nolan as a “spin pitcher, who moves the ball really well, and keeps batters off balance.”

After the reliable seniors, there are equally reliable underclassmen who can step into the circle and mow down a lineup.

Freshman MacKenzie Juodaitis has already earned New Jersey Athletic Conference Rookie Pitcher of the Week and sophomore Ashley Lesch has provided the Profs with another top-notch option.

“Between the four of them it’s very complete, it’s very [complementary],” Sims said.

The seven most recent games showed the true brilliance of the staff’s combined work: four shutouts, two contests allowing a single run and one game allowing four. That works out to less than a run per game in that span.

“I’ve played previously at another school and this by far, hands down, is the best group,” said Sims, a former La Salle University Explorer.

Dominant is a term that can seldom be used for an entire staff, but it fits remarkably well for this Rowan unit.

“We’ve never had four pitchers [at the same time] that are this dominant,” Wilson said.

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