I’m really not quite sure if I am a lefty or not, but it is certainly not how I began my softball journey.
At 10 I was playing comp soccer when a teamate recruited me for softball. I found I liked the game in local rec, and got a reputation as a powerful at bat and solid infield player.
I did not pitch.
Two years later and I had the bug for sure. I made the hard choice to focus full time on softball until High School, giving up a blossoming career as center forward. I am still a multisport athlete, but I had a little catching up to do.
My bat has always been big for me, I have been swinging an end load -9 33 with great effect since I was 12. But I had a bit of a hitch in my throw… As I moved into travel ball at 12 the play got more competitive, and my goals got bigger, so it was obvious I needed some fine tuning.
I had already been working with Georgia Bulldog legend Megan Mcallister to increase my batting power, so we started working my throw technique as well. And that’s when it happened. Megan went on a vacation, and her standin Haighlee Kissee was a pitcher.
I switched to throw lefty in 2018
We worked on my throwing, but I also asked her if I could spend a half hour learning the most basic of pitching drills, the snap. It was not impressive to say the least. After a few minutes, my father who was watching, asked me to try one lefty. The difference in control and power was dramatic. And so I did the unthinkable… I switched throwing arms 3 weeks before that years rec season, and 3 months before I would enter the world of travel softball, at the age of 12.
For the next several months I worked hard on just switching my basic body mechanics, and continued to occasionally do snaps. I decided to try catcher, as we had a need, but the arm, while strong, simply wasn’t accurate enough yet.
Early 2020 – working on strength with Coach Megan Clark
So I entered a frustrating and perilous phase. I had never played outfield, having always been athletic enough to grab an infield spot…. but as a lefty, my options had narrowed. I took a love for first base, but quickly realized that teams build their roster ‘up the middle’… catcher, pitcher, shortstop, center… there it was again, pitcher.
So I redoubled my efforts. In January of 2019 I started an intensive three coach training program with Debbie Nelson and her team at All American Sports Academy here in Tracy. I saw Megan Clark for pitching, Briana Warner for strength and agility, and of course Debbie for batting.
And most importantly, I met coach Manny Paz, to whom I will forever owe a debt. Coach Paz brought me in to his tight knit travel team, and gave me that shot I was looking for. He saw what others couldn’t.
And for over a full year, while I played travel ball out of Livermore, I worked as many sessions as I could, at AASA, and in my yard. I pitched as walked, I pitched as I talked… I dreamed of pitching.
I remember my father talking to my then travel ball coach, asking if it was possible I could get reps in with the teams pitchers during practice, but they had no interest. We expressed our goals as maybe, possibly being a fourth pitcher on a JV squad. They shook their head at him and said not possible. The next year, I started High School. I made Varsity, hit the cycle and threw a no hitter (granted quite a few walks). I taught myself to pitch in games playing up in travel ball, at first at 13 playing 16u, then at 14 playing 18u. I learned my two of my pitches over zoom lessons during the pandemic. There is nothing I can’t do. I am 23lefty. Try me.
Early 2020 – working on location with Coach Megan Clark