|Freshman pitcher keeps cool in hot spots
By Jill Erwin
DANVILLE, KY-Erin Grumley lives for pressure-packed games.
The Centre College freshman hopes she can help lead the Centre softball program to games with high pressure and even higher stakes.
"I played for a pretty hard-core high school team (in Belleville, Ill.)," Grumley said. "I'm used to pressure. It's kind of what I live for. I like the pressure games more."
Centre coach Wendie Austin said that's what makes Grumley special.
"Erin is just such a fierce competitor," Austin said. "She's used to being in the big games, and she lives for the close games bottom of the seventh, we're up 7-6 or whatever and she's cool.
"She doesn't ever get nervous or excited. For a pitcher, the first thing you can't do is show your emotions, and Erin never does that."
"This program, I don't know how many people last year told us, 'You just have to get a pitcher,' " Austin said. "To take nothing away from Berea Ernst, because she worked hard for us, but she said the happiest thing in her life right now is that she doesn't have to pitch.
"Erin has come in and we have put a lot on her shoulders and on Julia's shoulders. They're a good combination, and what's nice is they're learning how to help each other out. They're both used to finishing their own games, and now they're learning how to let each other help each other out."
Grumley had five strikeouts in the three innings she pitched against Asbury in the first game on March 27. Going into that day's action, she led the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference with 63 strikeouts, was second with a 0.94 ERA and fourth with 59.1 innings pitched.
Austin may have recruited Grumley, but she gets an assist from Grumley's father. After she had finally limited her college choices down to five schools, her father showed up with a brochure from Centre.
"My dad was like, 'Check this school out,' " Grumley said. "I said, 'No, no more Dad.' But he said, 'I think you'll really like it, and they have an open house coming up.' So I went and I absolutely loved it.
"I told myself that I didn't want to go there. I just kept saying that, but when it came down to the day when I had to make my decision, I knew I was going to Centre."
"Everyone was really upbeat, and I like that, Grumley said. "My high school coach, she was great and I love her to death, but she was so serious about the game. I like thinking I'm going to come down here and things are going to be for fun. We're out here to win, but it's not going to be like we're out here to win or die.
"It wasn't that bad in high school, but it was a big thing if we lost. When they came to visit me, everybody just seemed so excited about everything, and it was just a very appealing thing."
Austin said the Colonels went after Grumley "pretty hard" because of her strength and pitching abilities.
"We were just ecstatic when she decided to come here," Austin said. "She has five different pitches. She's strong, she's got a lot of junk and she's got some heat on it."
Grumley said she couldn't be happier with where she is. The Colonels have no seniors on this year's team, and Grumley said the players get along so well that it can only continue to pay dividends.
"We work really well as a team," Grumley said. "We practice hard. We get along really well, and I like that. All in all, I think everybody's really happy with the season so far.
"We're going to kick butt next year. I think it's really good, not losing everybody, because we get along so well and that's going to be great for us next year."
"I did say I wanted to set a few school records," Grumley said. "I don't really know what those records are yet. I'd also like to maintain what I've already gotten.
"I don't want to peak at the beginning of the season. I want to keep getting better. I know in the past I have peaked at the beginning and I don't want that to happen."
Austin knows there is a lot of pressure on Grumley, but the coach said Grumley is a big part of the team.
"Erin has come in full force and has been asked to take this on her shoulders and lead this program, pitch as many innings and face as many batters as we need her to," Austin said. "There are times when we've had to use her in both games (of a doubleheader), and that's going to happen for a while. She definitely is a key to our program and a key to our success this season."
For more on Centre athletics, visit the Danville Advocate-Messenger's Web site at www.amnews.com or visit Centre's Web site at www.centre.edu/web/sports/athletics.html.
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