Ashland, Ore. – With the non-conference games of the season now over, the Southern Oregon University softball team is setting their sights on some tough opponents heading into conference play. If the Raiders plan to be successful they will need help from pitcher Karlie Stephens.
The 5’ 10’’ junior from Eagle Point, Ore. plans on giving it her all in the remaining weeks of the season and believes the team needs to be mentally tough in order to win games in the Cascade Collegiate Conference.
“I think that our team has area to improve within ourselves and be better mental players in both fielding and hitting because the mental part of the game of softball is a very important one,” said Stephens, “We have good defense and our offense is coming along right with that too so we all just need to be mentally tough to become a better overall team.”
Stephens plans on working hard through the rest of the season, as well as encouraging her teammates to do the same.
“My goals for the rest of the year are to keep throwing hard and to keep throwing smart and to always be a team motivator and leader even if things aren’t going in our favor. I always want to be the best pitcher I can be for my team so I need to keep being mentally strong and physically as well” said Stephens.
Since coming to SOU, Stephens has learned that the transition from high school softball to college softball can be challenging. Playing at the collegiate level has shown her the need to be more knowledgeable of the hitters she faces.
“I’m a pitcher and I feel like I had to focus on what pitches to throw in what situations, and know stats about the hitters I was facing and knowing what pitches would work best against which batters and things like that. In high school I didn’t really think about all of those things too much so my biggest area of growth would probably be establishing my mental side of pitching more and being a smarter pitcher against every hitter.”
In choosing a school, Stephens chose SOU primarily because it is close to her family. She greatly enjoys the support they give her and says she would not be the player she is today without them.
“I’m close with my family…when it came down to deciding where to play I think I chose the best option for myself.”
Throughout her softball career, Stephens has benefitted tremendously from the guidance and support of her mom and dad. She says her father put his heart into helping mold her into the player she is today.
“When I was six I signed up for t-ball and my dad was my coach, and it stayed that way until I was a senior in high school and was 18. He taught be basically everything I know about the game and would sit on a bucket catching me for hours while I learned to pitch no matter how many times I would hit him in the shins or ankles.”
Stephens is also grateful for the enduring encouragement her mother has given her.
“She’s my biggest fan and will be at every game whether it’s pouring down rain or the sun’s shining, it doesn’t matter because she’s always in the stands supporting me and cheering me on.”