From 43 feet to the strike zone, every pitch counts in softball. Whether it’s a ball, pop fly, bunt or any other outcome after a pitch, each one really counts.
“You can’t expect one pitch to decide a game,” said junior pitcher Kim Crowson. “But, every pitch adding up together is going to make or break the seven innings you’re about to throw. You have to be just as good in the first pitch in the count as you are in the last pitch in the count because you’re going to use each pitch to set up the next one.”
Pitchers Samantha Robles and Crowson were the feature pitchers on the mound for Southern Miss against Texas-San Antonio this weekend in Conference USA action. Coming in at 22-21 into the weekend, these players were the leaders to give Southern Miss a chance against the visiting Roadrunners.
“They look to you when you’re out there in the middle of the field,” Crowson said. “The ball is in your hand [for] every pitch. It’s easy to communicate.”
Robles in the first game went 6.1 innings pitched giving up seven hits and striking out a season-high six batters. Robles has been a mainstay on the team as a junior. With her leadership, she believes that sometimes, leading by example is all that you need to win a series.
“Making sure I do what I’m expected to do on the mound and if I do that, I hope that it trickles into the rest of the players,” Robles said. “Make sure I take care of myself first and get my job done.”
Crowson is a different story.
The right-hander from Killen, Ala. was a JUCO star at Shelton State Community College, now coming into the Southern Miss program where she had been recording a 1.73 ERA before doubleheader action against UTSA. Crowson’s stat line against UTSA was not ideal, giving up nine hits and five walks while only striking out two batters on Saturday doubleheader action.
But, it is the resilience on the mound that she believes can not just close the deal, but get the job done down the line.
“You have to have confidence in yourself,” Crowson said. “That’s a position that if you’re not confident, you’re not going to be successful. There’s going to be ups and there’s going to be downs… But you’ve got to keep throwing.”
As a team, the Lady Eagles have a 3.15 ERA, with Robles and Crowson having a combined record of 12-16 on the year. Although it is not a winning record, they believe that they can be a 1-2 punch to guide the Lady Eagles through the ending stretch of the season.
“Just continue to do our job,” Robles said. “Pitching just has to do what’s expected of them. Just come out and stay inside yourself and don’t let them run the field.”
The Lady Eagles closed out the UTSA series with a 4-2 win on Sunday, putting USM at 7-11 in C-USA play ahead of the conference tournament in Hattiesburg.