Lakeside High School softball coach Jay Matthews might try to have a poker face, but that's tough to do when you have four aces up your sleeve.
The Lady Panthers are off to the best start in team history, thanks in part to the pitching of Lauren Seaborn, Jori McMurtey, Kaylee Hutchins and Andria Batchelor.
"The pitching has pretty much been evenly split up between those four. Each of them has at least two wins," Matthews said. "I've said all along that our strongest aspect is defense and pitching. That's the reason for our start."
There's a reason why Lakeside's young guns came out firing in 2003.
"Softball is everything to me," Batchelor says, and the same goes for her pitching cohorts.
Lakeside pitchers Jori McMurtrey (from left), Andria Batchelor, Kayle Hutchins and Lauren Seaborn are in the Athlete Spotlight.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
All four have been playing softball since they were around age five, and along with suiting up for Lakeside, they compete with fastpitch travel teams. They also contribute at the plate and are position players when they aren't mowing down opposing hitters.
The year-round practice is evident whenever the fantastic four takes the hill. "The good thing about them is they're around the plate," Matthews said. "They throw strikes and keep us in the ball game."
Although Seaborn is the veteran, she's just a junior. McMurtrey is a sophomore, while Batchelor and Hutchins are freshmen, but age doesn't matter - when there's a job to do, pressure gets pushed aside.
"I haven't really thought about pressure," McMurtrey said. "I just go out there and do what I know I can do, and try to be a good example for the younger girls."
Hutchins is one of the "younger girls," and she's setting quite an example herself. "I get so nervous, but I end up doing well and that takes me by surprise," she said. "If I just throw strikes our defense will take care of the rest."
At this time last year, Batchelor was pitching for Columbia Middle School, but she's found the prep diamond at Lakeside to her liking.
"It's a lot different than middle-school softball, a lot more competitive and people take it more seriously, which is good," she said. "The thing I like most is your teammates aren't scared to push you to be the best they know you can be."
The best may be yet to come, but the future is now for this well-armed pitching staff.
"As I've grown older, softball has become more competitive and more fun," Seaborn said. "This season I'm very excited about our team. We have a lot of potential. We can make it really far."
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