When Clover squared off with Hillcrest in the District softball championship last month, Blue Eagles pitcher Elizabeth Edmunds put on a clinic in how to get groundball outs.
There were dribblers, choppers, bleeders, slow-rollers and worm-burners, 15 ground ball outs in total. Edmunds didn’t strike out a batter during the game but she bossed the bats of the defending state champs, limiting the Rams to just four hits and helping the Blue Eagles bust into the clique of I-85 schools that dominate softball annually in the Upper State with a 4-1 win.
“Coach (Shea) Hall always said let them put it in play because the defense behind me always has my back, and it definitely showed that day,” Edmunds said. “I don’t have to do it all on my own.”
Games like that – and there were many of them – led to Edmunds claiming the Herald’s 2013 All-Area Softball Player of the Year award. Only a sophomore, she was 23-6 with a 2.03 earned run average on the mound thanks in part to a nasty screwball pitch that opponents were usually lucky to touch with a bat.
“It’s really rewarding because I’ve worked so hard the last year, even getting pitching lessons,” Edmunds said on Saturday.
She wasn’t just a groundball-getter either. Edmunds struck out 123 batters, and hit .353, with a home run and 15 RBI to boot. It was on the bump though that her real worth shined through, especially as a workhorse who threw almost every game this season for the Blue Eagles.
“She was consistent day in and day out, whether we scored 10 runs for her or one run for her,” said Hall. “She gave us a chance to win every ballgame.”
Edmunds is one of a number of young players on the Clover roster who have played varsity since their middle school years. Vast experience as a 10th grader helped the Blue Eagles’ star arm keep her cool in tight situations.
“She’s been that way since seventh grade,” said Hall. “You look at her out there, you don’t know if we’re down or up… she keeps a good demeanor out there.”
Edmunds’ even keel, a talented bunch of teammates, and a devastating screwball helped her go 14-0 in Region 3-4A play this season as the Blue Eagles claimed the region championship for the third year running. The sophomore, also an All-Area basketball performer, didn’t try to do too much, relying instead on the excellent bunch of gloves behind her.
“She’s not over-powering,” Hall said. “Hopefully, she can get her five to seven strikeouts per game. But she’s just better at putting the ball where he needs to be. Our defense all year was solid and she did a good job of hitting her spots and letting our defense play.”
Bret McCormick • 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T