For The Tribune
Avery Clark has high hopes for her senior year on the Seymour softball team.
“I’m hoping we come out and play competitively and leave it all out there,” she said of the upcoming season. “We are looking to get a sectional win under our belt. At the very least we want to win a sectional game. It would be the first time in school history.”
This spring, she aims to be the Owls’ No. 1 pitcher, and when she’s not on the mound she hopes to play second base.
Clark has done a lot of pitching in travel ball.
Last summer, she played travel ball with Derby City Crush from Louisville, and she said that team traveled all over Kentucky and to other states throughout the southeast.
Clark said she had to change her delivery for this season.
“I’ve had to overcome a hip injury because I was over-used when I was traveling all over last year,” she said. “I was our No. 1 pitcher.
“After I came off my injury I started a new approach. I struggled to get my speed back, but I have a whole new approach this season, and that’s helped me a lot. I even think it made some of my pitches faster.
“I’ve always struggled using my legs to pitch. Some days I’m using my legs and I’m throwing really hard, and the next day I can’t even use my legs. Now it’s more of an explosiveness with my legs.”
In the circle, Clark throws six different pitches: fastball, rise ball, drop ball, screwball, curve ball and change-up.
Clark, who is a right-hander, said, “I enjoy throwing to left-handed batters, but I didn’t used to. I used to struggle with my curve ball. Now I enjoy it because it gets called for a strike and they’re not expecting it. The curve ball goes inside to a left-handed batter, and the curve ball is one of my favorite pitches, and its moved up on my list.”
She said the key to having a successful inning is throwing a strike to the first batter and getting the lead-off hitter out.
“It sets the tone for the inning,” Clark said. “If you get behind you can always come back, but most of the time it’s not just a good inning for everyone. If you ask Brian (Personett, head coach), throwing the first pitch for a strike is the most important thing. He says it a lot.
“If you get ahead then you can throw all kinds of junk and catch them swinging.”
Clark said she feels that when opposing teams have a runner on first base it’s a tougher situation.
“I almost think it makes me throw harder because I know as soon as the pitch is delivered I’m running up to play the bunt so it gets me through the pitch quicker,” Clark said.
At second base, Clark sees plenty of action.
“I like second base because of all the moving, there is always something,” Clark said. “Like when the ball comes back to the pitcher I’m always backing that up. If there is a runner on second I’m always getting her back to the bag. I like the middle.”
Last year, after she hit a grand slam home run against Franklin, she started swinging for the fences and her batting average dropped — so she had to cut down on her swing and show more patience at the plate.
“I got my swing back,” Clark said. “I was actually hitting No. 3 for a while. It just depended on who we were playing. I’ve hit more home runs with two strikes on me. It’s kind of a mental thing.”
Clark said she looks forward to filling the role of team captain.
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Name: Avery Clark
Parents: Larry and Lori Clark, Fonda and Everett Wilcher
Sports: softball 4 years
Athletic awards: offensive player of the year
Organizations: Latin Club
Plans after high school: attend Indiana University Southeast, study business
Favorite food: mashed potatoes
Favorite TV show: Full House
Favorite movie: Alice in Wonderland
[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Q&A” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Q: What’s it like attending SHS?
A: “It has its days but I think every school does. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. It’s near and dear to my heart, and it always will be.”
SCHEDULE: “With the new field (home games) are really nice. It’s really homey, and our mound is the best mound to throw on.”
Q: Fondest softball highlight?
A: “We were playing Henryville last year and they were No. 3 in 2A. I didn’t start pitching, but somehow I ended up there and it was a really big point for me because after that game I got the game ball and (coach) Brian (Personett) thought that I had finally grown up my mental stability because It wasn’t there as much my freshman and sophomore years. Now I enjoy Brian’s intensity.”
Q: Biggest difference between high school and travel ball?
A: “Once I got used to them it was a whole new world. In travel ball you have girls that always want to win and in high school ball you don’t always get that.”