With every pitch, sound of winner

Softball: Lindsay Ettinger of Chesapeake-AA uses her impeccable location and pitch selection to lead the No. 1 Cougars.

High Schools

April 27, 2003|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Looking for a rise ball in tight? No problem. How about a curve low and away? You got it.

Chesapeake senior pitcher Lindsay Ettinger, a three-year standout who has led the Cougars of Anne Arundel County to a 12-2 mark and the No. 1 ranking in the metro area, has definitely bought into the old sales-pitch theory: It's all about location, location, location.

Here's proof: The All-Metro first-team selection has a 31-7 mark with a 0.55 ERA in her three seasons of varsity. In that time, she has faced 980 batters in 268 innings, striking out 244 batters and walking just 24.

Ettinger, who recently signed to play at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., on a partial scholarship, has made her mark by finding the mark.

"Her release point is within a fraction of an inch all the time - I've never seen anything like it," Chesapeake coach Don Ellenberger said. "When a walk happens, I'm like, `Are we sure about the count?' She just hits her spots. If we tell her to go high and outside, the ball is going to be high and outside."

Ettinger picked up her first softball and bat when she was 3 years old. Wanting to become a pitcher came later.

"I started pitching when I was 9 years old. I saw the Olympics and Michelle Smith was pitching. I said, `Dad, that's what I want to do,' " said Ettinger, a member of the National Honor Society who carries a 3.6 grade point average.

She has played for the Maryland Outlaws in the summer league. During the offseason, she is out in the back yard or the Chesapeake gym throwing 200 to 300 pitches a day four times a week with her father.

Each year, Ettinger comes into the spring with a new pitch or two. Her repertoire is now at eight pitches. Here's what opposing batters have to think about at the plate: a good fastball, changeup, drop, curve, drop-curve, riser, screwball and variations on each pitch.

"I told her we don't need eight pitches, but she said she could throw them all for strikes. She proved herself right," Ellenberger said.

Repetition plays big.

"I think going out there and practicing over and over - hitting those spots every time - I have a routine that I stick with, and that helps me when I go into games," Ettinger said.

When she warms up with catcher Jessica Dayton before each game, the two assess what pitches are working best. The options are plentiful, and each of her pitches comes with all sorts of movement. Having seen most of the competition over the years, Ettinger also knows who can hit what and not.

"I just put the glove out and wherever it is, that's where the ball ends up - it's incredible," Dayton said.

The Cougars have had a long list of quality pitchers go through their program dating back to 1988, when they won their first of five state titles over six years.

An upset loss to Westminster in the Class 4A East regional playoffs last season has made them hungry for success this spring. The starting point to their title hopes is clearly found on the mound.

"Lindsay's pitching presence gives our whole team confidence," junior shortstop Tracey Dahlen said. "The way she carries herself - we don't worry about Lindsay - we know she's always going to bring her `A' game and we just have to have our gloves ready."

Glen Burnie coach Bob Broccolino, whose Gophers have been on the short end of tough losses to Ettinger more times than not, knows exactly what Dahlen is talking about.

"She never gives in, never gets rattled," he said. "There's been a couple of times when we've had the winning run on base and you'd look at her face and couldn't tell if it was a tight game or she was up 10 runs. She's the consummate pitcher."

Ettinger also has proven to be a good salesperson as well.

Ellenberger has always used a designated hitter to bat for his pitchers, but Ettinger talked him into letting her hit this season. She has responded at the plate, too, hitting .391 to go with her 8-2 mark on the mound.

"She's not only a good player, but she's a great person, too," Ellenberger said. "Right now, she's the total package and when she moves on to Catawba, they're going to get a heck of a ballplayer."

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