2009 Player of the Year

Published 10:20 pm Saturday, June 6, 2009

Alli Warrick is the epitome of the athlete cliche. She eats, sleeps and breathes softball, but she does not see anything wrong with that.

The Goshen Lady Eagles’ ace led her team to a 22-14 record and within one game of the Class 2A state tournament in 2009, but she is merely a ninth grader.

She has pinpoint accuracy and the look of intensity in the circle, but she does not even have a driver’s license yet. Warrick has the composure of a senior when in that circle or at the plate and for that confidence she has been named The Messenger’s 2009 Softball All-County Player of the Year.

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But Warrick’s success has not come easy. When she is not playing for the Lady Eagles, she can be found traveling the country with the CSXpress.

“I am always trying to work hard and I am out there every summer trying to get better,” Warrick said. “Last year I set a goal to reach 55 mph and increase my speed. I got it and now I will do that again.”

Warrick was a double threat in 2009 for the Lady Eagles from the circle and at the plate. At the plate Warrick batted .341 on the year with her first career home run, seven doubles, 18 runs scored and 20 RBIs.

She was even better when she stepped in the circle, with a razor thin 1.29 ERA in 146 innings of work with 170 strikeouts, 44 walks, 39 hits allowed, eight shutouts and two no-hitters.

Dedication to getting better is something Goshen head coach Dee Hughes loves to see in her ace.

“The thing is, if you stop pitching you lose that muscle memory,” Hughes said. “So it is hard work and we are just glad Alli wants to get better.”

During the Lady Eagles quest for a state title Warrick and her teammates kept it loose on the bus.

“On the ride up there (to regionals) we were just talking about the game like it was just another game,” Warrick said.

The ride to the regionals is one thing, but what trips up a lot of players is getting out on the field and realizing what they are doing. This is not a problem for Warrick.

“I am not thinking when I am out there,” she said.

Not thinking or recognizing what is going on around the field can be a plus and Warrick has a way to deal with distractions. During one game this year the other team was poking fun at the grunt of aggression that leaves Warrick’s mouth during every pitch. Warrick did not have to say a word, but the other team stopped riding her about it.

“I didn’t really hear them, but I knew they would stop,” Warrick said.

Warrick’s mother, Amy Warrick, is an assistant coach for the Lady Eagles and she said that game was a great moment.

“She just kept pitching and sure enough, two or three innings rock on and you don’t hear anybody making fun of her anymore,” Amy Warrick said. “They are just worried about hitting the ball.”

Getting better is always something coaches stress to players, but Warrick does not need that gentle pushing because by playing with CSX, she is doing that.

“What makes you better is you going out there and playing the best competition,” Hughes said. “She gets to see everyone’s third and fourth batter on every team up and down the lineup. That really ups her level.”

Amy Warrick said playing against good competition is good to keep Alli Warrick’s ego in check.

“Alli could take this and be like ‘Oh I am good’ and get a big head, but she knows she can’t because in travel ball she will go up and pitch against all these great hitters,” she said. “It keeps her very grounded.”

Softball has been her love for a long time, but Warrick has only been pitching since she was 10 years old.

“She really didn’t get serious about pitching until her seventh grade year,” Amy Warrick said.

Warrick has always had a knack for pitching and it came a little easier to her than hitting did, but that has not stopped her from wanting to get better at the plate.

“One night I yelled at (Alli) and Kaitlin Thomas and said, ‘I am going to get divorced if I get home any later because he has had enough of this,’ and they both just looked like that their lives depended on hitting that night,” Hughes said. “That was how much they wanted to go to state and make the playoffs. And it paid off.”

Hughes said there is a major difference in the way Warrick approaches the two phases of the game.

“On the mound she is very confident, but when she gets in the box she expects too much from herself,” Hughes said. “And we try and tell her that when you hit that box you have to have the same attitude you have on the mound.”

Warrick had the success she did in 2009 after recovering from a broken pitching arm.

“She was struggling to get her arm strong again and to throw different pitches at the beginning of the year,” Hughes said. “Really it was after spring break that I noticed that we got her back. She built her arm strength back up and she is ready. She has definitely matured throughout this year.”

Warrick is probably on the field today practicing for next year and this year she will have no broken bones to repair and should be ready for another great year as a Lady Eagle.