The Camanche softball team is ranked No. 10 in Class 3A heading into the last games before the postseason commences. Head coach Kevin Roling has plenty of confidence, and for good reason.
In addition to being one of the hardest hitting teams in the state, the Indians have two pitchers in the circle they can count on: senior Abby Stock and junior Tarah Wehde.
“Either one of our pitchers can take the field at any time and we’re going to be in the ball game,” Roling said. “We’re awful lucky to have pitchers like we have.”
The two have been the backbone of the Camanche defense for a few years now, looking dominant as ever as the Indians near regional play.
It’s not like it’s something they’re not used to. Both started pitching very young. For Wehde, it was when she started 10u travel ball.
“When I first started in travel ball, we didn’t have a pitcher for our team,” Wehde said. “A couple of summers later I was like, ‘Wow, this is something I want to do in high school, college, whatever.’”
For Stock, she started taking lessons when she was just seven and went into travel ball as a pitcher from there.
“I’ve loved softball forever,” Stock said. “I just always wanted to play softball, I’ve never questioned.”
The two collectively make up a team ERA of 1.64, which is the ninth lowest in all of Class 3A. Not to mention they’ve struck out 232 batters through 876 opponents faced, leaving their competition’s batting average at an abysmal .182. That strikeout count is good for the sixth best in Class 3A.
Overall, they control their enemies. It just so happens that’s part of what they like about the position.
“I like to be in control of the game,” Stock said. “I like to control the pace of it. I like the challenge, too, like what pitches to throw and when.”
They both work together with the same pitching coach, working on speed and strength along with their array of pitches. Both play other sports, too, but softball is the first priority.
It helps that they have each other to lean on after working together for so much time in high school.
“In some games, I’ll see something and I say, ‘Hey do this, pitch it this way,’” Wehde said. “She does the same for me.”
Plus, the two are major components of that Indian offense. Both are batting over .450 for the team, with Wehde knocking over 18 home runs so far this season, good for second best in the entire state. Stock has 10 herself, which is third on the team and helps the Indians lead the state in homers.
Plus, their experiences as a pitcher help them with their eye at the plate. The two of them have only struck out 19 times collectively and have walked a total of 36.
Heading into the postseason, both girls know they’re going to have to be on their game. The Indians’ only seven losses have all come in the last month and in four of them more than five runs were allowed.
“I think we will [have to be on] a little bit,” Stock said. “The hitters are going to get harder as we’re playing better teams. We’ve already seen that from Durant, Assumption and West Liberty.”
But on the other hand, they’ve also been in these situations before. It’s not pressure anymore, it’s day-to-day business. And like Coach Roling said, with either Stock of Wehde with the ball for the Indians, it’s bound to be good competition.
“We’ve faced these girls before, we’ve played them in travel,” Stock said. “We know what they can do.”
The Indians open up regionals next Wednesday at home against Tipton. They host the first two rounds.