GARDNER — When you love to hit softballs it can be frustrating when no one will pitch to you but for PikeView High’s Katie Richardson she took it as a compliment when opposing teams did not let her hit in games.
By the end of her senior season Richardson kept getting walked with runners on base instead of getting the chance to drive them in with a hit. She even got the Barry Bonds treatment of being walked with the bases loaded once.
“It’s not all the time in high school softball that a player gets walked game after game after game and I mean I thought that was a notable achievement to accomplish,” Richardson said.
PikeView head coach Mike Jones had set the lineup in such an order where there would always be runners on base when Richardson came up to the plate to deter opposing coaches from walking her. It wasn’t enough though as she was constantly walked at the end of the season.
Richardson had a .667 batting average for the season and reached base almost seven out of every ten times at the plate. She hit six home runs her senior season after only two her junior year.
Once she started hitting home runs she kept doing what she was doing beforehand because that is how it she hit her home runs.
“It’s having the discipline knowing that going up to the plate after you hit a home run you just can’t try to swing for the fences you just gotta make contact and not change anything,” Richardson said. “That’s just the hardest thing for a player is to remain disciplined on every single pitch.”
Richardson was not just the three-hitter for the Panthers but its ace on the mound. She said she was pushed into pitching but it has helped her off the field with changing her mentality in getting work done.
“Just the main thing that pitching does for me although I’m not built to be a pitcher but it just really helped me with handling the stuff in school, if I have a lot of homework I know to stay calm and just the little things is what pitching really taught me.” Richardson said.
On the mound Richardson has been in situations where the next pitch either wins or loses the game for the team. Against Wyoming East High she threw a two-hitter and had to work her way through a jam to close out the shutout.
“Knowing that the whole weight of the game is on your shoulders I kind of matured and grew up on the softball field with that,” Richardson said.
She was on the mound for almost all of the Panthers win this season and a cornerstone for Jones, who has been head coach for two years.
Richardson has the added responsibilities when pitching of setting up the defense behind her for each hitter. It took her focus off the next pitch for a second but helped the team succeed.
“It was something I had to do because sometimes players miss stuff, sometimes coaches miss stuff and its my job as the captain of the team to pickup the slack.”
That allows Jones to just call pitches and decide which of Richardson’s five-pitch arsenal should be thrown next. Her ability to command all of her pitches and throw them on both sides of the plate kept hitters off-balance as she racked up double-digit strikeout games.
Richardson will be heading to Glenville State where she will be able to continue playing softball and studying to be an athletic trainer. She had to decide between three colleges offering her a spot on their team with different roles she would play on the field and the scholarship amount being offered.
“I was familiar with it as we had went up there on hunting trips, camping trips and I really liked the area and I felt at home,” Richardson said. “I have essentially a full-ride to go there and I just felt like I really fit in there.”
Glenville State is in the Mountain East Conference and won 20 games two times in the last six years. They were a very young team this past season and struggled having those players get adjusted to division two softball.
Richardson will be a utility player for the Pioneers at the start doing both hitting and pitching. It was her hitting ability that the coaches most liked about her.
The Pioneers need more hitting as they had a .236 batting average as a team this past season and averaged three runs a game.
PikeView will be able to continue its success as it only graduates two players from a good team the was young. The seniors were a big part of the Panthers success and will be difficult shoes for others to step into.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever have another player like her,” Jones said.