Maes makes pitch for Truckee softball success
While a high team batting average and errorless fielding are important, nothing determines the success of a high school softball team more than pitching.
That’s why the Tahoe-Truckee High School softball team considers itself a contender for the state title this season, as the Wolverines are hoping to ride the right arm of senior Brooke Maes straight to the AAA championship.
Maes, 17, currently 5-5-1 (four losses came to either AAAA or California high schools) this season with a sub-2.00 ERA, brings both velocity and control to the mound every time she steps on the field for the Wolverines. She has five different pitches, including a drop ball, fastball, riser, change-up and curve, and she has been clocked at 58 mph on the radar gun. Her skills have already attracted the college scouts and she is planning to play collegiate softball for Sonoma State University next fall.
Although she has been playing softball since she was 7 years old, Maes said she didn’t become serious about pitching until she attended a softball camp two years ago and met Mike Bastian, a collegiate coach from Illinois who has worked with several Olympic pitchers.
“Before I went to the camp, I would just ‘lob’ the pitch in and try to get it over the plate,” Maes said. “Mike taught me about velocity and the different type of pitches and I became fascinated by pitching.”
Maes, who used to play basketball and ski for the Wolverines during the winter, quit those sports in order to perfect her pitching technique.
“My whole reason for quitting skiing and basketball was to concentrate on softball,” Maes said. “Either you want to do it or not and you have to be willing to work hard.”
That hard work paid off last season as Truckee placed fourth at the state championships. With the team returning 10 players from last season, Maes believes the Wolverines can do even better this season.
“We’re hoping we can win the title this year, but it’s going to be hard in the new division because Fernley and Spring Creek will give us better competition than we had last year,” Maes said. “I’ll have to pitch against tougher teams and have stronger games – the whole team will have to work a lot harder.”
Maes said the Wolverines will have to cut down on their errors in the field if they are going to reach the state final.
“Last season, when we played (eventual state-champion) Spring Creek, we made nine errors in the game,” Maes said. “They were a tough team, but I felt we still could have beaten them.”
About the only weakness the Wolverines have this season is the lack of a relief pitcher (Daisy Toole and Monica Gadda both pitch, but they prefer to play center field and second base, respectively), meaning Maes is often on the mound for marathon sessions. During the state tournament last year, Maes pitched five games in two days.
“Softball is a team sport, but the pitcher and catcher are in on every play, so it can be stressful,” Maes said. “When I’m out there five game in two days, it gets tiring.”
When she wasn’t working on her pitching over the winter, Maes taught snowboarding at Soda Springs Ski Area. And although she gave up skiing and playing basketball for the Wolverines, she was a member of the state championship soccer team last fall.
“I’ll miss the soccer team because our team was so close,” Maes said. “And it helped to keep me in shape for softball.”
With at least one pitcher already returning for her senior season next year, Maes said it might be tough to crack into the Cossacks’ line-up as a pitcher next year. If she can’t start on the mound at Sonoma, Maes will probably revert to her “old days” in which she described herself as a “utility player who played every position.”
“I’ll try to work my way into the lineup as a pitcher,” Maes said. “Otherwise, I’ll probably play first base or the outfield.”
In Truckee’s only game of the week, played last Wednesday (March 26), the Wolverines committed nine errors in a 7-4 non-league loss to Sparks High School. Truckee led 1-0 through two innings, but a six-run third for the Railroaders broke the game open.
Sarah Jones, Monica Gadda and Becky Parker each recorded RBIs for the Wolverines.
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