Layne leads SP girls into district finals

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2001

SOUTH POINT – Tara Layne’s first experience in the softball pitching circle could have been her last.

Thursday, May 17, 2001

SOUTH POINT – Tara Layne’s first experience in the softball pitching circle could have been her last.

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Opponents during the past three years can’t wait for her last experience.

When Layne went to the pitching circle for the first time, it was in little league. She remembers it well, although not with the most fondest of memories.

"In my first game of little league I walked 22. So I tell girls not to get discouraged," Layne said with a chuckle. "I’ve come a long way."

A long way? That’s an understatement.

The South Point Lady Pointers senior pitching standout’s career walk total is 69 in 525 innings. And she currently has 243 strikeouts this season, breaking the old school record of 210 she set two years ago as a sophomore.

With 579 total strikeouts, she has an 8-to-1 strikeout/walk ratio.

"My sophomore year I had 210 strikeouts, and last year I didn’t get 200. I wanted to get at least 200 this year," Layne said.

"I’d like to get seven more to get 250. But if someone had told me before the season the I would have gotten 243 strikeouts, I wouldn’t have believed them."

Reaching the 250 mark could come Saturday when South Point faces Sheridan at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Division II district finals. The game was moved back a day due to the rainy weather.

Being in the district tournament and getting 200 strikeouts were two of Layne’s goals going into the season.

"Besides getting 200 strikeouts, I wanted to get to the district. I like playing in the district. Teams in the OVC see me all the time and that’s why they can’ hit me," said Layne. "In the district the teams have no idea how I pitch. I have no idea how they hit, but I try to use that to my advantage.

"But I love setting goals for myself. It makes it more fun."

Layne pitched the Lady Pointers to the regionals as a sophomore. She said trying to get back is fun, but she said being a senior has made this year’s experience different than in past seasons.

"I didn’t play (varsity) until my sophomore year, and I was nervous. I was very inexperienced, but I had a lot of experienced players behind me. I saw how they led team as senior and I learned a lot," Layne said.

"This year I’m a lot more relaxed and I have more confidence. You have to have confidence in yourself."

Layne has a career record of 65-13 with a microscopic 0.50 earned run average. Her 25 wins this season is another school record. Her record is 25-3.

Being a senior isn’t as tough on Layne as pitching. She admits feeling the pressure when she steps into the pitcher’s circle.

"There’s a lot of pressure. The pitcher sets the tone. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders, but I like it. I like stuff like that. I’d rather it be on my shoulders," Layne said.

Earlier this season, Layne added another highlight to her career when she pitched a perfect game against Huntington (W.Va.) St. Joe.

"When I got it, I said, ‘Finally,’" Layne said. "I had a perfect game my freshman year (against the South Gallia reserves) and we had an error on the last batter. I would have had a perfect game against Tolsia, but I walked a girl. I was so excited (when she got the perfect game).

"I wasn’t aware of (the perfect game) at the time. But I have a good defense behind me and I know if I just throw it in there, my defense will make the plays behind me."

Layne’s career will continue at the college level. Tuesday she accepted an offer to pitch for Berea (Ky.) College.

"It was either Berea or Mount Vernon. Berea is closer to home and I’ll be able to come back home. Berea is a good academic school. They only accept 400 students a year," Layne said.