A Trio of Pitchers Share the Secret to Their Success

For baseball and softball fans, it is easy to admire pitchers but hard to understand them. Only a select few fans have the opportunity to pitch when they are young, and each pitcher follows their own set of rules and has their own unique experiences. In the end, the best way to understand pitching is to speak about it to pitchers themselves.

Tyler Brett and Kristi Van Meter from RHAM High School and Julia Karnes from Glastonbury High each has each experienced a significant amount of success during their careers. From conversations with them, I learned much about the work that goes into being a successful pitcher and how rewarding pitching can be.

The success of Brett, Van Meter and Karnes starts with their repertoire of pitches. Over the course of their careers, they have developed a set of pitches that can both overpower hitters and keep them off balance.

“I throw a fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider,” said Brett, who is a senior. “My fastball is my best pitch because of my command of it, and it’s the pitch I turn to in key situations. Overall, I am confident in all my pitches and feel I have good command of them.”

Like Brett, Karnes throws a fastball, changeup and curve. The sophomore believes that her fastball has been key to her success this season.

“It has always been my best pitch, and I turn to it when I need to get a big out or am facing a tough batter,” she said.

Van Meter throws a fastball, screwball, riseball, curveball, and changeup, a deep arsenal that has helped the sophomore become one of the state’s elite hurlers this season. Van Meter said her screwball and riseball are her best pitches because of their movement.

While the trio said having good stuff is important, they also each said it is not the only key to their success. Brett, Van Meter and Karnes do their best to prepare for each start and take the correct mental approach while on the mound.

“Before each start, I prepare by trying to visualize the plate and being on the mound,” Brett said. “During the game, I focus on throwing strikes and knowing what I want to throw in certain situations.”

“My mentality on the mound is my biggest strength,” Karnes said. “When I’m doing well, I’m staying focused and maintaining my composure.”

Van Meter said she prepares for starts by visualizing how she will attack hitters. During games, she concentrates on maintaining her command and looks for ways to keep hitters off balance.

While Van Meter and Karnes have been starters since the beginning of their high school careers, this is Brett’s first season as starter after previously serving as a closer. The senior quickly established himself as RHAM’s top starter, and has enjoyed the transition.

“As a starter, the game is more in your hands. It feels good to know that you had a big effect on the outcome and were able to step up for your teammates,” he said.

Brett, Van Meter and Karnes credited their catchers and coaches for a huge portion of their success, saying they had consistently helped them to become better.

“Jeff Hallbach has always been my catcher since Little League and is one of my best friends,” Brett said. “He understands how I pitch and we are always on the same wavelength during games. Coach (Paul) Steiner has always been encouraging and given me advice, and he gave me the opportunity to become a starter that I wanted.”

“I really enjoy working with Leyna DiMarco. She does a great job of calling pitches and is able to keep me calm,” Karnes said. “Coach (Georgeanne) Dicenso is very supportive and has taught me about how to attack hitters.”

One of the toughest challenges these pitchers face is balancing their duty as pitchers with hitting. They deal with this conflict in unique ways.

“The biggest challenge is to overcome the urge to be a pitcher while hitting,” Van Meter said. “I have to prevent myself from trying to guess what the pitcher might throw me, or thinking about what I might throw to a batter in that situation. When I hit, the only thing I think is “I’m swinging at this pitch.”

“My mentality with balancing hitting and pitching is pretty simple: If I’m doing well at the plate the two go hand in hand, and if I’m struggling I just try and put it out of my mind,” Brett said.

Brett, Van Meter and Karnes have tossed a number of impressive starts this year. Brett singled out his April win against Glastonbury as his best performance, saying that it was rewarding to pitch so well against a heated conference rival. While Karnes and Van Meter did not single out starts, they both said they were satisfied with their performances and would work on their command in remaining regular season starts.

As their team’s top starters, Brett, Van Meter and Karnes are looked at as leaders for RHAM and Glastonbury. Karnes and Van Meter have embraced the role.

“I try to lead by example,” Karnes said. “Before every pitch, I let everyone know how many outs there are and where the play is going and I cheer on everyone who makes a play. No matter where I’m playing, I hustle and give 100% and I think that encourages my teammates to do the same.”

“By watching the opposing pitcher during warmups and batting against her, I am able to report their tendencies to teammates and recommend how to deal with them most effectively. I provide leadership through encouraging my teammates, giving advice, and providing a calming presence.”



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