Fletcher, Anderson burn basepaths for NWF St. softball
Adrena Anderson lays down a bunt vs. PJC
4/27/2010 – Fletcher, Anderson burn basepaths for NWF St.
By ADAM ROSENBERG Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4484 | email@example.com
The ideal beginning to a game for any softball pitcher is a fastball over the plate for strike one. If that pitcher is toeing the rubber against Northwest Florida State College, that nonchalant fastball might become a triple before she has time to blink.
That's because the Raiders boast perhaps the speediest 1-2 punch in the Panhandle Conference at the top of their lineup in the form of Whitney Fletcher and Adrena Anderson. Both players are exceptional outfielders for coach Jack Byerley and spark plugs that power the Raider lineup.
"Whitney and Adrena are very pleasant surprises as far as meshing together and playing together as well as they have," Byerley said. "I knew they were going to be fast and be able to do what they're doing, but I didn't know they would be able to complement each other as well as they have."
To borrow a basketball term, Fletcher has filled up the stat sheet out of the leadoff position all season. She's hitting a team-high .418 to go along with a .627 slugging percentage, which is unusually high for a leadoff hitter.
That slugging percentage is the product of 11 doubles and eight triples, and Fletcher has also driven in 30 runs. Despite the flashes of power, Fletcher is most at home when she puts the ball on the ground and showcases her blazing speed. It's what she's done ever since she was a seventh grader on the varsity team at Decatur High School, a Class 6A program in Alabama.
"I've always been a leadoff hitter," Fletcher said. "I like to put it on the ground so I can get on base and score for my team."
Whether teams get by Fletcher or not to start a game, there is no respite. That's because Anderson is a player shaped in almost the exact same mold as Fletcher. They both put extreme pressure on defenses, which is particularly evident by the fact that Fletcher and Anderson have stolen 29 and 26 bases, respectively.
"I think a lot of teams get nervous when we get two people on base," Anderson said. "When you get the No. 3 and No. 4 hitters up, our power hitters, you don't have to do much but find an open spot and we can make it work. We've had power hitters hit it to deep second base and we've been able to score. I would be nervous if I was another team."
Luckily for Byerley, the two burners are on his team. He says what makes them so dangerous is their ability to jump on opponents right away. With those two looming to start a game, there's no time to get settled in. By the time fans have opened their Cracker Jacks, the Raiders might have runners on second and third after a pair of bunt singles and a couple of stolen bases.
"In the beginning of the game, the defense doesn't want that much stress," Byerley said. "They want easy grounders. They don't want to have to make a big play to start the game and pitchers are looking for pop ups.
"We're trying to get it in the dirt so the defense has to make a play right off the bat. They put so much pressure that the pressure kind of permeates into the dugout. You make the other team lose control when you actually haven't done a whole lot."