By Colin Harris | Staff writer
Senior Springfield pitcher Quartni Whited has been turning in a 2013 campaign that, in many ways, is reminiscent of the kind of dominance we saw from Letitia Bittinger.
In 2010, Bittinger was a one-woman show as she led the East Canton Hornets to the Division IV state semifinals. In the process, Bittinger set a single-season Stark County and PTC record for strikeouts with 375 while also setting a new then-state record for home runs with 14 in one season.
While Whited hasn't posted the kind of ridiculous video game statistics that Bittinger has, the Springfield senior has been every bit as dominant.
Through 15 starts, Whited is 14-1 with a 1.33 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 68 innings. Whited also has two saves in relief appearances. At the plate, the Springfield slugger it batting .472 with 17 hits and 15 runs scored.
That work has paid off in the win column for Springfield as the Spartans are currently 17-2 and 8-0 in league play.
The Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association has also noticed Whited and the Spartans' play as Springfield is currently ranked second in Division II in the most recent release of their state poll. The only team ranked higher than Springfield is River Valley, a regional runner-up in last year's tournament.
County Division co-leader Windham also cracked the Division IV poll for the first time this season, coming in at 10th in the most recent release. The Bombers received 24 points - tied for the most among any of the four 10th-ranked teams in Divisions I through IV.
Off the top of my head, I cannot recall the last time the PTC had two teams ranked in the state at the same time. I would love to hear from anyone who can provide some historical context for me on this.
With one loss inside of the Metro Division -- a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Springfield -- the Field Falcons are in sort of a strange position.
The Falcons are, record-wise and likely on the field as well, the second-best squad in the Metro Division. That said, the top team is Springfield, and it's difficult to see the Spartans being beaten until the Falcons get their rematch later this month.
With her team in the position of knowing its league destiny rests on that Springfield game, Field head coach Beth Dyer said that she is doing her best to keep the team focused.
"We know that we have to get to the position where we still only have one league loss when we play Springfield," Dyer said. "When we can do that, then we can talk about Springfield because that game only means something if we win the games we play prior to that."
First on the list of things to do is a rematch against Kent Roosevelt this coming Monday. The Rough Riders were beaten handily by Field in their first game -- an 11-4 final -- but are more than capable of challenging the Falcons in their rematch.
"Kent is a good team and they have some great hitters on their team," Dyer said. "We need to worry about them, first and foremost."
Unlike most teams, Field has been throwing two pitchers regularly during the season: Kerrie Trautman and Leandra Griffin.
In both the win over Kent and the loss to Springfield, Griffin took the circle, while Trautman has pitched in a number of other games this year.
Dyer said that the Falcons typically make the decision of who to throw depending on what team they're squaring off with.
"We kind of go with the team we're playing when we make that decision," Dyer said. "Kerrie and Lee both have different strengths and we try to figure out what would work best with the team we're playing."
I was impressed by the way Windham freshman Brittany Knight handled herself after turning in a stellar performance in a big win over County Division rival Garfield on Wednesday.
Following the game, Windham coach Elliot Thompson asked me to interview his star pitcher instead of him -- a rare request, but one that made sense in light of her 14 strikeout performance, as well as the grand slam she hit at the plate.
But what was interesting to hear was how well she -- a freshman coming off the biggest win of her young career -- handled herself when I asked what the victory meant to her and her teammates.
"I just hope that we don't get overconfident after this win," Knight said. "We still have so much of the season left to play."
Knight also offered some insight into her approach to pitching and again showed a level of thought that's a little more mature than I expect from a pitcher her age.
"I know that we're going to play everyone again still and they've all seen me throw now and know what to expect," Knight said. "So I'm going to have to adjust how I throw a little bit (to keep teams off-guard."