ROYAL OAK — In total, 15 batters would come to the plate.
Before things were said and done, 12 would walk back to the dugout without putting the ball in play
Another day in the circle for Haley Zemmer.
Another round of headaches for hitters trying to figure her out.
“She was pretty dominant,” Troy Athens softball coach Dave Marr said following an 11-0, five-inning victory against Royal Oak High on a windy and cold May 3 afternoon.
Sure, the Ravens are struggling this spring and in the midst of rebuilding, but these types of results are typical for Zemmer, the hard-throwing, right-handed senior who’s shattered just about every pitching record in Red Hawks program history.
“I think she’s been throwing the best of her career, so far,” Marr said of Zemmer’s senior season. “She is commanding her pitches. She’s been dominant, and has done so against some pretty good teams.”
Following the victory against Royal Oak, Zemmer was 11-4 on the season with a 1.89 ERA and 125 strikeouts.
The record is solid.
The ERA, likewise.
But it’s the strikeouts that have set Zemmer apart from all pitchers to come before her at Athens.
Marr said the career record for strikeouts prior to Zemmer’s arrival was 425.
Including her 12 against Royal Oak, Zemmer is now just 75 from reaching 1,000 in her four-year varsity span.
“We’ve had good pitchers here in the past, but never a strikeout pitcher like she is,” Marr said.
So what makes her so tough to hit?
“Her speed is part of it,” the Red Hawks’ coach explained. “And when her change-up is on, it’s phenomenal. Her curve is also real effective, and when she places it on the corner, like she can, it’s pretty much impossible to hit.”
“I guess it’s kind of crazy for me to really think about the numbers,” Zemmer said of her strikeout totals. “I think I’ve learned to keep batters off-balance. I’ll alternate speeds, or work in a different pitch. My accuracy has really come along. I feel like I’ve been more consistent.”
As a freshman, while still dominant, Zemmer was a power pitcher.
She still can be, but she has added other wrinkles to the mix.
“She’s become a much wiser pitcher,” Marr said. “She’s learned how to approach and attack much better.”
One of five senior starters, Zemmer and the Red Hawks have one of their strongest teams in years right now. While she didn’t pitch in the second game, Athens swept Royal Oak and sat at 12-4 this season.
“The seniors have stepped up. They’ve taken it upon themselves to move this team forward,” Marr said. “All five of them are having their best seasons of their career, and that makes us very dangerous. They believe they can challenge and make a run in the state tournament. We feel we can compete with just about anyone.”
Zemmer, who’s hitting over .400 and is committed to play at Oakland University next spring, said all the pieces are in place for a long playoff run.
“Our goal is to get back to the regional and then see what happens,” she added. “We have the talent, and we have the power hitters to get us over that hump.”
They also have the key ingredient.
“Pitching is the name of softball, isn’t it?” Marr said. “When you have someone come in as good as she is, she is only going to make you a better team.”