Brooke Nelson has taken charge of Bonney Lake High softball.
For the last few seasons, coach Andrew Sage has had one problem facing his Bonney Lake (7-2, 3-1) squad: Who’s going to pitch?
“For the past couple of seasons, we had to throw out a starter and (just) see what we had,” Sage said. “Robin (Morin) did a great job for us last year, but with someone like Brooke, you know what you’re going to get on the circle.”
What the Panthers get from Nelson is a pitcher who mows down opposing batters, combined with a hitter who punishes any pitch that attempts to grace the strike zone.
Entering the week, Nelson has a 7-2 record with 84 strikeouts in just 59 innings pitched. Nelson has issued 11 walks while giving up just two earned runs so far.
“I just know that I have my teammates behind me,” Nelson said.
As impressive as her numbers are in the circle, Nelson’s hitting totals so far are flat ridiculous.
Brooke (Nelson) keeps her teammates in the game. They’re always on their toes because (those two) will pitch to contact to keep Brooke’s pitch count down. They’re not afraid to get their teammates involved.
Bonney Lake coach Andrew Sage
Through nine games, Nelson is getting on base more than 2/3 of the time she steps to the plate, sporting a .679 batting average while crushing eight extra-base hits (two home runs, two triples and four doubles) with 15 RBIs.
What’s the key to the Bonney Lake freshman’s hot start?
Well, Nelson can explain it best.
“This team works so hard, and I know whatever they do they’ll have my back,” she said. “I knew right out of the bat, when we started winter conditioning around Christmas — I knew how hard this team worked. It’s just special to be a part of this team and play for each other.”
This team works so hard, and I know whatever they do they’ll have my back. I knew right out of the bat, when we started winter conditioning around Christmas — I knew how hard this team worked. It’s just special to be a part of this team and play for each other.
For there to be good pitching, there needs to be a solid catcher behind the plate. These are the people who hold starters’ livelihoods in their hands — or glove.
For Nelson, that person is freshman Hailee Hagins.
Bonney Lake defeated Kennedy Catholic, 12-2 on Friday, behind the overpowering start of Nelson, who walked away with 11 strikeouts over five innings. Nelson was on her ‘A’ game.
“I think it makes it much easier, but I don’t know if I had Brooke (as a teammate) that I would even be on varsity,” Hagins said. “She makes it so easy.”
Hagins is only speaking partial truth as it has been Hagins’ receiving behind the dish that has boosted Nelson this season. Like in the win over Kennedy — or the win the day before over Auburn, 10-0, where Nelson finished with 10 strikeouts against the Trojans.
In each of those games, it was Hagins’ ability to frame pitches that boosted Nelson performance, and overall, her confidence on the mound.
With a pitcher with the penchant to strike out hitters and a catcher with the penchant to frame pitches, it equals a dynamic duo that can be hard to defeat.
“That’s what we want to emphasize here is that this is a team — (softball) is a team sport,” Sage said. “Brooke keeps her teammates in the game. They’re always on their toes because (those two) will pitch to contact to keep Brooke’s pitch count down. They’re not afraid to get their teammates involved.”
Bonney Lake plays Peninsula (4-4, 3-1) on Tuesday before closing out the week hosting the always-dangerous Enumclaw (5-1, 4-0) on Thursday.
No matter the results, there’s a lot of potential in this Panther team going forward. And it all starts with the girl holding the ball: Brooke Nelson.
I’m just excited to see where we can take this team over the next four years.
“I’m just excited to see where we can take this team over the next four years,” she said.