Desert Vista’s Erika Cade gives a new meaning to the term, relief pitcher.
“I’ve been pitching since I was 9,” Cade explained, “so it’s pretty natural.”
But that’s not the senior’s favorite position on the Thunder softball team.
“I pitch because I know how,” she added, “but I love playing in the outfield because it’s interesting.”
That’s where Desert Vista coach Chris Crowl has had her most of the season, but when the team gets in a bind he knows he’s been able to count on her in a clutch.
“Her passion is the outfield and that’s why she got a scholarship,” Crowl said, “but when we need to go to someone to pitch and help the team she’s done it before and she has done a great job for us.”
Her range on the outfield and a solid bat, in addition to Cade’s performance in the pitcher’s circle, is what caught the eye of Phoenix College recruiters this season.
“When I’m in the circle I pitch as well as I can, but I only pitch to help out the team,” Cade said. “I’ve had my ups and downs, but I think it was my hitting and playing in the outfield and pitching, too, that caught the attention of Phoenix College.”
That’s the tough part, she adds.
“I’m a pretty good hitter, but that’s harder than pitching and catching a ball any day.”
A part of her enjoyment of being in the outfield has been playing beside Hannah Bapst. This is the third season they have shared the outfield.
This fall the duo will be sitting on opposite benches.
Bapst has accepted a scholarship to play at Chandler-Gilbert Community College next season. Her sister, Chelsea, was a catcher for the Thunder before playing for Phoenix College for two seasons and is headed for Morehead State University in Kentucky this fall.
“Both are very gifted and it’s a shame to see them go after this year because they’ve made some big contributions,” Crowl said. “They both know the game well.
“Erika picks things up so fast in the outfield and besides having a strong arm, Hannah has been a consistent lead-off hitter for us this season,” Crowl said.