Kale's Ks leading Lady Gryphons
The Thomas Jefferson softball team is enjoying their best season in program history. Sophomore pitcher Brianna Kale is a big reason why. Through 13 games this season, Kale has racked up 117 strikeouts, leading the Lady Gryphons to a 5-8 record.
“It’s a great feeling when you hear the umpire call strike three,” Kale said. “I know that when I strike people out it helps the team win.”
TJCA head coach Jamie Hicks believes that Kale’s Ks have another benefit as well.
“It gives the whole team a swagger and a lot of confidence that they did not have in the past,” he said. “Whenever Brianna is out there, you know she can have 10 strikeouts or more and that gives you a chance to win."
For her part, Kale wasn’t always as confident.
“I was nervous as a freshman,” she said. “I was facing batters who were 18. I think I was better than I showed. I was just too nervous. I’m not nervous at all this year just because I have more experience and I feel like I can get hitters out. I just throw the ball to a certain spot where they can’t hit it.”
“When I get two strikes on a hitter, I usually throw my fastball,” Kale continued. “I have other pitches, but the fastball is my best pitch and the one I try to get people out on.”
Kale also credits Hicks for her improvement in the circle.
“Coach Hicks is one of the best coaches I’ve had,” she said. “He is so great. He has a weird way of communicating and motivating us. I can’t explain it.”
Hicks does explain, however.
“During the Bessemer City game, Brianna walked the first three batters of the game,” Hicks said. “I called time and told her, ‘Look around you. All those runners are yours. How about giving everybody a chance to play.’ Needless to say, that did not sit to well with her. It made her mad and then she struck out the side. Brianna is just like that. She is such a competitor.”
Kale developed that competitive spirit at an early age.
“I started hitting the ball around with my dad in the back yard when I was four and just loved it,” she said. “And I’ve been playing ever since. I did not start pitching until little league and that’s all I want to do now.”
Even so, Kale realizes that she has to become a more complete player in order to enjoy success on the prep level and beyond.
“I want to play softball in college,” Kale said. “I love pitching, but I have to work on my hitting, too. I think it will be tough to balance both.”
Hicks believes Kale has the tools to take her game to the collegiate level.
“Oh yeah, I could see her pitching or even hitting on the next level,” he said. “She is such a versatile player. Not only can she pitch, but she has speed and power. I can hit her in the two hole or the cleanup spot. She is a good left handed bat to have in the lineup.”
But Kale sill has two years left on a high school diamond before college to help the Lady Gryphons.
“This a good team to be a part of,” Kale said. “We have to keep playing hard to get even better and I think we will.”