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Monday, February 02, 2009Lady Bisons opponents will see a variety of pitching styles this season.
Juniors Alaina Jacobson, Christen Campbell and Christy Grisham will be joined by freshman Whitney Kiihnl.
Jacobson is back for a second year after earning All-Atlantic Sun Conference Second Team honors in 2008. She made an immediate impact on the pitching staff last season after transferring from Missouri. She posted an 11-6 record, a 2.93 earned run average and also had three saves.
In Atlantic Sun Conference games only she was 9-0 during the regular season, but lost her perfect record with a loss in the A-Sun Tournament.
“Early last season Alaina had to regain some confidence she had lost while at Missouri,” said Lady Bisons coach Kristin Peck. “It took awhile for that to come about.”
Jacobson started out as a reliever for the Lady Bisons, but was able to move successfully into a starting role as the season progressed. She made 29 appearances, starting 19 games. She pitched 10 complete games.
“She was used to be used more in relief-type roles, but in the second half of the year she really established herself more as a starter. The more innings she pitched, the better she did.”
Despite having to adjust to a new program, Jacobson quickly became a leader for the Lady Bisons. With no seniors on the team Peck is expecting the junior class to become more of factor in terms of leading the team.
“Last year she showed a lot of leadership, but her teammates are more confident behind her,” Peck said. ‘They know what to expect out of pitching. She proved herself last year. Her teammates play well behind her.”
Peck expects Jacobson to be used more in a starting role early in the season as the Lady Bisons face a series of tournaments.
“Alaina is not going to wow you with her speed,” said Peck. “Like last year, she is going to provide versatility in our pitching staff. She is someone we are going to count on for a lot of big innings.”
Campbell is a competitive pitcher, but she is also a solid defensive third baseman with the ability to hit for some power.
Campbell finished the season with a 9-10 worksheet and one save. She posted a 3.97 earned run average. She made 24 appearances with 13 starts.
“She is somebody who is hard to take off of the field because she is such an athlete,” said Peck. “We would really like more innings out of her this year.
“Last year she got into a little bit of rut. She would be throwing great and then she would give up that one big hit. We have to get back to form with her a little bit. She worked really hard this fall on being more consistent with her pitches. She is learning more about how to pitch.”
Campbell is known for her durability on the mound. As a freshman she often pitched both games of a doubleheader.
“Christen can throw and throw and throw,” said Peck. “She doesn’t need long to warm up. She is a gamer.
“She is smart. She is very competitive. I have no doubt she is going give us more innings this season.”
Grisham’s first goal is to remain healthy this season. A full season of work from her would be a tremendous boost to the young staff.
“Christy has worked tremendously hard to just get back to being healthy again,” said Peck. “It has been a long and frustrating road for her. I think anything positive we get out of her this year is going to be huge.
“She is looking more composed and much more confident on the mound. Those are two things that are hard to get back when you haven’t been on the mound in a game situation in a long time.”
Peck stresses the key for Grisham will be to string together some strong performances early in the season.
“Christy brings so much to the table,” said Peck. “She has to build her confidence and have composure on the mound early on.”
Kiihnl, like most freshman, is learning more about the game of softball with each practice, though Peck ranks her as the most talented freshman pitcher he program has attracted. Peck also likes Kiihnl’s eagerness in wanting to improve.
“She brings a great attitude to the table,” Peck said. “She is ready to learn.
“She was very, very highly regarded coming out of high school. She was heavily recruited. I have no doubt she is going to do some awesome things here before she is done.”
Peck expects Kiihnl to immediately contribute. She was a two-time Gatordade Player of the Year and a First Team All-State selection in the state of Mississippi.
“We are going to throw her into the fire early, let her get that experience and see what happens,” said Peck. “We have high expectations for her as a freshman. That’s not said to make her nervous. She has the talent to do it.”
(Next: Catchers and infielders).