BY THE NUMBERS
A look at Lambert senior Kassie Howard’s pitching and hitting statistics entering tonight’s games.
ERA W-L CG IP BB SO B/AVG
1.14 23-2 17 128.2 40 175 .166
AVG 2B 3B HR RBI SLG OBP
.451 8 2 1 17 .662 .494
If the Lady Longhorns are to make it to Columbus for the Elite Eight, it’ll be on the arm and bat of senior Kassie Howard.
The right-hander is an impressive 23-2 this season in the circle, including 17 complete games, with a 1.14 ERA and 175 strikeouts.
Howard is just as potent at the plate. She boasts a .451 batting average, 17 RBIs and a .662 slugging percentage.
"Kassie brings maturity and experience," Lambert coach Dana Corr said. "She’s so calm on the mound and she works very hard and if she’s having a bad day, you’ll never know it because she’s always the same. So, the girls just light up when she’s on the mound and have confidence in her. I just think that when she gets on the mound, we all feel like we can win."
Lambert (30-3) will play Collins Hill (23-5) at home today at 5 and 7 p.m. and if necessary, Thursday at 6 p.m. in the second round of the Class 6A state softball playoffs. The Lady Eagles, who won the state championship in 2009, ‘10 and ’11, will present Howard with her biggest hurdle, but she plans to approach the game the same way she does every contest — relaxed.
"We’re just going into this like it’s any other game," Howard said. "Just stay relaxed."
Senior catcher Rachel Ross has developed a bond with her pitcher after two high school seasons and a summer of travel ball catching Howard. Ross said she knows what to say to get the best outing from Howard and can usually tell what she wants called.
"It’s your typical pitcher-catcher bond," Ross said. "I know what she wants to throw and she knows me as a catcher and we’re very comfortable with each other. …We got a really good bond going. We have a nice trust in each other, as well."
Said Corr: "They’re buds. If Kassie is feeling something and we’re not seeing it, Rachel notices and Rachel calls time and will go talk to her. So, they’re very connected and on the same page and get along great. They’re a great duo."
Teammates Megan Whitlatch and Savannah Huffstetler’s offensive production may help with any pitcher’s easy-going attitude.
Whitlatch is absolutely destroying pitchers with a team-high .528 batting average, nine home runs, 42 RBIs and a whopping 1.056 slugging percentage, while Huffstetler touts a .436 batting average, 11 doubles, 34 RBIs and a .525 OBP.
"We have so many good hitters all throughout the lineup, so it’s hard to get outs against us," Howard said. "I just go up there and wait for my pitch. We do a lot of hitting in practice and I’m just trying to get it in gaps to get on."
Despite Collins Hill’s recent success in the state playoffs, the Lady Longhorns aren’t concerned and are ready to show the state they belong among the top teams.
"We are just going to have to play flawless softball," Corr said. "We’re really going to have to work hard on defense, our pitching is going to have to be there and we’re going to have to hit. But, I feel like if we play Longhorns softball, like we do every day, we’ll be fine."