NEW STAR IN FAMILIAR PHIN
Hope Lawrence didn’t throw a pitch from the end of last season until December.
Since then, she’s been the most improved player for SCC softball.
The sophomore pitcher has halved her earned run average from her freshman year, dropping it from 9.26 to a solid 4.61. But there was significant chance of her not even being on the team this year.
She sat out during fall practices with the rest of the softball team, taking a mental break and focusing on school. When she decided in December that she did want to play a second season for SCC, she started working on her pitching without a catcher — just throwing at a wall to get the feel back.
“Her first couple of bullpens weren’t pretty,” said Head Coach Ben Reindel. “We were kind of skeptical, too. But she grew up so much from last year. She’s really been a professional about it; she’s been so mature as far as her work ethic.”
During her senior season at Central Kitsap High School, Lawrence won the MVP award for the 3A Narrows League, taking the Cougars to a division title. She committed to play for Reindel and SCC softball in 2016 during his previous stint as the Phins’ head coach.
Reindel left to be an assistant coach at Seattle University for the 2017 season, and Kelly Kaneshiro took the helm during Lawrence’s freshman season. With the coach who initially recruited her now back in the fold, it’s come full circle.
“A lot was happening,” Lawrence said. “I didn’t know if Kelly was going to come back or not. I wanted to play with Ben, too — I never got to see him as a coach. But I wanted to come back because it’s the last year I’m ever going to be able to play with these girls again. It’s once in a lifetime that you get to play with these teammates.”
Lawrence is not the fastest worker while in the pitching circle. Pitchers are allowed a 10-second time frame from receiving the ball from the catcher to get back to the pitching rubber for the next pitch; if they do not, a ball is issued to the batter. During a recent game against Douglas College, the opposing coach started counting out loud each time Lawrence got the ball back from the catcher, trying to get the umpire to enforce the rule.
“Hope takes her time in the circle,” Reindel said. “She gets the ball from the catcher and her pitching routine is like her personality, pretty laid back.
“She takes about eight or nine seconds to get ready every time. But hearing the Douglas coach counting pissed her off,” he continued. “She got called for a delay of game by the umpire once. She started getting the ball, setting up and going fast. For the last two innings, she shut them down.”
Lawrence ended up with a complete game win against Douglas, allowing just one run on five hits. The loss snapped the Royals’ 47-game winning streak against North division opponents, dating back to 2016.
“If you’re talking smack, I’m going to get back,” Lawrence said. “I can quick-pitch you instead.”
by Ed Strong,
Photo by Nick Molsee,