When a pitcher steps in the circle clinging to a one-run lead with the bases loaded, two outs, and a full count — it’s time to lean on their out pitch.
Most will have one pitch they’ll always go to, while some might go to a variety of pitches depending on the day and the hitter.
The Oklahoman spoke with four of college softball’s top pitchers at the Women’s College World Series about their out pitch.
Here are their stories:
Lacey Waldrop, Florida State
Out Pitch: Dropball
Florida State’s Lacey Waldrop could hardly have a more appropriate name to go along with her out pitch.
The National Player of the Year goes to her dropball, which has fittingly been coined the “Waldrop.”
“I’m just very confident in my dropball,” Waldrop said. “I can throw it for a strike, and I can throw it for a strikeout pitch. It’s just my go-to.”
Waldrop describes the dropball as working much like a split-finger fastball does in baseball, a fast pitch that ideally has a late downward break to fool hitters.
The junior only recently mastered the pitch and relied on it to help produce a 38-7 season with a 1.13 earned run average.
“I didn’t really throw it very much until I got to college,” Waldrop said. “Coach (Lonni) Alameda really helped me develop it. It moves well and it’s a pretty good speed, so it’s just a good one to get a groundball on if it’s a 3-2 count.”
Cheridan Hawkins, Oregon
Out pitch: Riseball
While Oregon’s potent offense gets much of the notoriety, Ducks pitcher Cheridan Hawkins has quietly become one of the best pitchers in college softball behind her exceptional off-speed stuff.
If she’s in a jam, the sophomore first-team All-American has one pitch she always believes can get her out of it.
“I’m probably going to throw my riseball,” Hawkins said. “That’s definitely my go-to pitch for any situation. I think it’s just the movement. I’m not a big speed pitcher, I don’t overpower anybody. I just definitely work on spin, and this pitch has some of my better spin.”