By: Nyah Hizer
Caitlyn Burch, a sophomore business administration major and pitcher for the UMW Softball team, was named softball pitcher of the week by the Coast-To-Coast Athletic Conference for the seventh week of the softball season.
“It’s pretty cool being named C2C pitcher of the week, especially considering I’m going up against other players in our conference who are very good,” said Burch.
Burch, who has played softball since she was a child, plays both softball and volleyball at UMW. Burch wanted to thrive and be an amazing college softball player, so she continuously pushed herself to see how high she could go.
“I really fell in love with playing softball in high school and then decided I wanted to pursue it in college. I also wanted to push myself to see how good I could potentially be by playing college softball and competing at a higher level,” said Burch.
Burch said her teammates and coaches are supportive. “They are both so encouraging and really push me to excel on the field and in the classroom.”
Last season, Burch received second team Coast-to-Coast all-conference and Coast-to-Coast all-tournament team honors. She had a 2.73 earned run average in 107.2 innings pitched and 79 strikeouts. Currently, Burch has an ERA of 1.24 in 96 innings and 104 strikeouts with her most recent accomplishment being a no-hitter against Gettysburg. She has been named Coast-to-Coast pitcher of the week three times, as well as National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III pitcher of the week.
“Caitlyn has worked hard, and she well deserves this honor,” said UMW Pitching Coach Keith Tasaka. “Caitlyn is a strong pitcher, and student of the game, she moves the ball in and out and can work all four corners of the plate.”
First baseman Morgan Gilbert, a senior history major in the secondary education program, agrees that Burch’s recognition is well-deserved.
“Caitlyn consistently performs on the mound and deserves high praise and recognition for all of her hard work and dedication on the field. She cares so deeply for this team and it really shines through in her time on the field,” said Gilbert.
Second baseman Maggie Mrowka, a senior business administration and marketing major, said, “Earning any awards or wins is a tough feat in the C2C conference, considering two of our in-conference competitors are ranked No. 1 and 2 in the country.” Christopher Newport University and Salisbury University are the top teams in the country at the moment.
“Caitlyn continuously battles with the top competition,” Mrowka continued. “I think Caitlyn’s performance against Gettysburg, striking out 11 in the first game and five more in the second game, speaks for itself in why she earned the title of pitcher of the week.”
Tasaka said that during the Gettysburg game, “She hit her spots well and moved the ball to keep the batters off balance.”
When her game against Gettysburg came to a close, Burch had no idea she had just thrown a no-hitter until her teammates came up to her after the game.
“I didn’t have any idea which was funny to me,” said Burch. “After I realized that I did, it was a pretty great feeling to have my first collegiate no-hitter.”
Burch continued, “I did well pitching but it wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have my defense behind me, so I have them to thank as well.”
Her defense always aims to support her. “We must make sure that our pitchers can trust the defense to back them up, so they feel comfortable when they are pitching,” said Mrowka.
To avoid jinxing a no-hitter, players don’t talk about it during the game. “Throwing a no-hitter is never easy,” said Gilbert. “When we got the last out it was so exciting to see the realization really hit all of the girls and Caitlyn.”
When the semester ends, the softball season will still be ongoing. Tasaka has high hopes for the rest of the season and the Coast-to-Coast Tournament. “We keep pushing forward; everything we are doing is to get the team ready for the conference playoffs,” said Tasaka.