Softball’s stellar freshman class has plenty of pitching phenoms

The abundance of freshmen stars has been the biggest storyline this softball season. The spotlight mostly has shined on the sluggers with gaudy home run totals. But the pitchers in that class also are playing pivotal roles. Three of them — Hernando’s Ava Braswell, Land O’ Lakes’ Mia Fields and Seffner Christian’s Shannon Kendall — have started each of the first two postseason games and have their teams one win away from reaching the state semifinals. Here is a look at that trio.

Ava Braswell, Hernando

On a team with three capable pitchers, Fields emerged as the ace down the stretch. She has started each of the last five games, allowing a combined three runs and recording 22 strikeouts during that span.

Braswell by the numbers

Win-loss record13-2
Innings pitched88

Mia Fields, Land O’ Lakes

For the first two months of the season, Fields only made brief appearances, throwing no more than three innings in any game. Last month, she became the workhorse of the staff and has started each of the last five games. On Tuesday, Fields avenged an extra-innings loss to River Ridge in the district final by allowing one earned run and finishing with three strikeouts in the region semifinal rematch. 

Fields by the numbers

Win-loss record9-3
Innings pitched75.1

Shannon Kendall, Seffner Christian

A dependable starter since the season opener, Kendall has pitched 85.2 innings, 62 more than anyone else on the staff. She has allowed just two earned runs in her last four starts. Kendall also has displayed some power at the plate. Three of her four home runs this season have come in the last four games. 

Kendall by the numbers

Win-loss record10-5
Innings pitched85.2

There are freshman pitchers who have made significant contributions, too. Academy of the Holy Names’ Keala Hollenkamp has a 1.47 ERA this season and gives the Jaguars depth heading into tonight’s region final. And Calvary Christian’s Malia Connelly went 14-4 with a 2.04 ERA to help the Warriors reach the region semifinals.