Shocker softball brings in three young pitchers

Freshman pitcher Jenni Brooks warms up in the bullpen prior to the game Saturday afternoon at Wilkins Stadium.

The Wichita State softball team has four pitchers this year and three of them are freshmen.

Jenni Brooks, Kayla Heath and Kaitlyn Malone are friends on and off the field.

“Obviously, we want to out beat each other, but we’re not like, ‘I don’t like you.’” Malone said. “We’re supportive in a competitive way.”

The players knew they’d comprise the majority of the pitchers playing on the team. They do a lot of training compared with other teams’ advanced pitchers.

“We do something every morning. Mondays and Wednesdays, we swim or run on the track, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays we lift in the weight room,” Brooks said. “Then we have practice out here and not only do we pitch out here, but we’ll do abs or running. Today we did abs and pulls while the rest of the team was doing infield/outfield.”

Ten-year pitching veteran Jenni Brooks hails from Olathe, Kan. She chose Wichita State over the University of Nebraska-Omaha, but is happy she became a Shocker. Jennie Finch is Brooks’ favorite pitcher.

“I’ve met her,” Brooks said. “She’s really inspirational because of how much work she puts in and how she travels around teaching other people what she loves to do. I admire her a lot.”

Heath has been pitching for nine years. She is from Mesa, Ariz., and made the choice to come to Wichita State rather than the University of Chicago International. Heath’s favorite pitcher is Dallas Escobedo, from Arizona State University.

“I’ve been on the same team as her,” Heath said. “She’s a pretty fun person to be around.”

Malone, like Brooks, has been a pitcher for 10 years and is from Creighton, Neb. Malone had originally committed to Butler Community College, but heard the Shockers needed a pitcher and committed late to Wichita State. She said she does not have a favorite pitcher.

“Ever since I was little I’ve watched and admired Cat Osterman,” Malone said.

They estimate throwing about 2,100 pitches a week. The pitching coach is Samantha Sheeley.

“Sheeley does a really good job,” Heath said. “I like the way she coaches.”

Malone agreed with Heath.

“Sheeley has her ways and she’ll adapt to you, but we’ve all had to change a little bit,” she said.

The girls and the rest of the Shocker softball team will be putting in a lot of hours in their off season and are hoping their work pays off.

“The amount of support on the Wichita State team is great,” Brooks said.