The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

May 6, 2014

Jon Gerardi's high school softball column: Southern Columbia gets Herr's best

Many fans, even some of the players themselves, figured this was a "rebuilding year" at Southern Columbia.

All-state players Kirstin Blass and Mallory Tomaschik graduated, as did Heartland Athletic Conference all-star Kayla Lavella, among others, which left some big holes to fill.

The biggest question mark coming into the season? Pitching.

After all, it's not easy to replace a pitcher like Tomaschik who notched over 400 career strikeouts and helped Southern Columbia reach its only District 4 championship appearance en route to a state final appearance.

Enter sophomore Abbey Herr.

The Southern Columbia pitcher had no varsity experience coming into this season. She threw only junior varsity innings last year, watching Tomaschik pitch Southern Columbia to the District 4 Class AA semifinals. She played a little summer ball to improve her pitching.

With that being the case, some people may not have expected a lot from Tigers pitching-wise this year, perhaps anticipating that Herr would emerge as a junior or senior. But Herr has surprised many, both fans and teammates.

She may have felt some pressure, but, as Herr put it, she simply settled in to her role in the circle.

"I did feel pressure coming into the season, especially in the first few games, but I settled in quickly," Herr said. "I just rely on my mechanics that my pitching coach taught me, and trust myself. I come out every game and try to be the best I can be for my team."

Herr not only leads the Valley in shutouts thrown (7) but also has thrown a one-hitter, three no-hitters and the Valley's only perfect game thus far. Herr also leads area pitchers with 55 strikeouts.

To put that in perspective, Tomaschik (now pitching at Division II power Bloomsburg University) had three shutouts, one no-hitter and no one-hitters last year.

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