Once you figure out Harlem High School softball pitcher Amber Garrett’s first five pitches, she’s ready to hit you with her final favorite two.
Not too many batters have figured out the Lady Bulldogs’ junior all-state hurler her first two years. On the way to helping the Lady Bulldogs to consecutive Region 3-AA titles and a fifth-place and second-place finish in the Georgia High School Association Class AA state playoffs, Garrett has posted a 42-11 record with 324 strikeouts.
Making it to the 2013 state title game made Garrett inspired to get back.
“It was great,” she said. “I wish we could have won, but we got a good taste of it even more than freshman year, so it’s going to drive us to do better this year.”
That said, she is keeping her expectations grounded.
“I’m just hoping to be able to lead the team the best I can, play the best that I can for them,” Garrett said. “Hopefully, we can pull together as a team and just play for each other and have good camaraderie like we have in past years.”
She has been playing softball for as long as she can remember.
“I have a love for the game,” Garrett said. “I love to come out here and play for my teammates and Lev (coach Mike Leverett) – he pushes me to be the best I can be. And my parents, they’ve gotten me to where I’ve got so far, and give God all the glory for allowing us to do what we have the past seasons.”
Leverett knows what Garrett means to the team, especially on the field.
“She means a great deal to this team,” Leverett said. “Especially when you’re in the circle. You give your defense a great chance. Instead of making 21 plays, you may end up making 12 or 13 plays. She’s got a great bat, too. She’s a big part of our offense.”
In two years she posted batting averages of .417 and .385, respectively, combining to drive in 65 runs with four home runs and 19 doubles.
“I love batting,” Garrett said. “Batting is the fun part of the game.”
Garrett lost 20 pounds in the offseason to build her endurance. She had a few physical problems crop up at the end of the summer that wiped out the best part of her travel ball season.
“I had nationals for travel ball and I couldn’t even go and it was frustrating, but I knew I had to heal for school ball,” Garrett said. “I haven’t been playing for the last two weeks and that’s the most vital part of travel ball. I missed two big showcases and nationals in Virginia. Everything happens for a reason.”
While missing showcases – and with two years to go – Garrett has already started attracting collegiate attention and she is exploring her options as well.
“I definitely want to play at the next level,” said Garrett. “I pray wherever I go, God leads me in the right direction. I want to go as far as I can go, as top a level as I can go. Whatever is the right fit.”