For high school softball pitchers, it’s all about the spin.
Woodland’s Olivia Grey and Ridgefield’s Kaia Oliver — two of the state’s top pitchers bound for NCAA Division I softball programs next year — say pitching is just as much sweet science as it is art.
“It’s an amazing thing,” said Oliver, a Syracuse signee.
The long reign of hard-throwing hurlers might’ve ended when the high school softball pitching rubber moved back 3 feet — from 40 feet to 43 — nationwide in 2011. The move came from the National Federation for State High School Associations to help create more offense in a game that favored dominant pitchers.
Initially, it made things tougher on pitchers and easier on hitters in the years that followed. But lately, pitchers have regained some of that dominance with an increase in strikeouts, and fewer hits and runs allowed.
In other words, pitchers have mastered 43 feet.
Oliver and Grey are no exception. They happen to be two of the state’s best. They also happen to compete in the same league and, again in 2019, will duel it out for 2A Greater St. Helens League supremacy.
Grey, a Portland State signee, helped Woodland win its second softball state title with an undefeated 2018 season, striking out 380 batters, including 69 in four state games, and finishing with a 0.80 earned-run average. Grey threw a complete-game, no-hitter in her Beavers debut last spring.