|Pitcher making all the right throws
RELEASED: Aug. 19, 2004
DANVILLE, KYA common collegiate sports theory is that student-athletes see the greatest improvement from their freshman to sophomore campaign.
The coaching staff of the Centre softball team hopes this rings true for rising sophomore Cici Besl (pictured). By all indications, she'll prove this assumption correct.
Besl, a pitcher/second baseman from Maineville, Ohio, played extremely well this summer for the Cincinnati Elite, an 18-and-under fast-pitch team. The Elite finished third in the USSSA World Series held in Kansas City, Mo. Besl pitched 33-plus innings in the 44-team tournament, and she finished with a 0.84 ERA and 17 strikeouts. She also hurled a no-hitter in one of the contests. For her efforts, Besl was named to the all-tournament team.
Following her freshman season, in which she pitched in 20 games, Besl sat down with Centre head coach Wendie Austin-Robinson to discuss how she could improve her performance. Besl took her coach's advice (improve her strength and stamina, and her pitching technique) to heart and has been working with a pitching coach this summer.
"Misty [Bridges, Besl's pitching coach] and I focused on increasing my stride and getting the ball to the plate faster," Besl says. "She gave me a tough workout of calf raises, squats and other exercises to increase the strength of my legs. With each weekly lesson you could see an improvement, and I was thrilled to find my pitches had become faster and sharper.
"The tournament helped prove to me that I was ready to go back to college and show my coaches and teammates I'd worked hard to become a better athlete and pitcher. I pitched about 14 innings the last day of the tournament, and I never felt like I was losing my stuff. That's really when I knew all the work that I had put in over the summer had paid off."
Austin-Robinson has been encouraged by Besl's recent play. She says it's a good sign since Besl will be on tap to pitch more innings this season as part of Centre's three-pitcher rotation.
"We're expecting big things from her, especially after her success this summer," Austin-Robinson says. "We hope her hard work will pay off for her and the team."
Besl, who plans a double major in English and psychology, is team-oriented. She praised her Cincinnati Elite teammates. "They're more than just my teammates, they're my friends and confidants. It was a team effort [in Kansas City] and no player stood out among the rest."
She also keeps two mottos on a piece of paper tucked in her bat bag. She reads them before each game. One says, "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game." The other reads, "One Inning, One Out, One Pitch, One Breath, One Heart
Although she's a team-first player, Besl does have some individual goalschief among them an ERA below 2.00.
"I want to focus on hitting my spots every game," she says. "When the pressure is on I have a tendency to just throw the ball over the plate and that can get me in trouble. I also want to become more confident on the mound. Though I will only be a sophomore, I want to be a force to be reckoned with and someone that the other teams will remember for a long time."
For more on Centre softball, go to http://www.centreathletics.comsoftball/softball_index.html.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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