Imani Largin knew she had to bide her time before her shot would come in the pitcher’s circle.
Sitting behind two senior pitchers, the Kenwood freshman, at the time, decided to concentrate on her batting and she torched District 10 with one of the best batting averages in the city’s prep softball scene.
When her chance to become the team’s No. 1 pitcher came this season, she didn’t disappoint and her offense stayed consistent throughout as Largin was named The Leaf-Chronicle All Area Player of the Year.
“That feels pretty good to be honored like that,” Largin said. “I have to say, I’m a little surprised because I didn’t expect to be Player of the Year. I was hoping to make the team but I didn’t think about this.”
If Largin wasn’t thinking about postseason awards, it was the only time she left any doubt in her mind. Kenwood coach Natasha Hufstetler — who was aided much of the year by assistant Ami Bush while Hufstetler was on maternity leave — attributes much of Largin’s success to her mind.
“She’s very smart out there on the field,” Hufstetler said. “She thinks about the game, she thinks about her opponents, how she wants to pitch them and anticipates well. She’s a leader by example and the girls follow her.”
She helped to lead the Lady Knights to one of its best seasons ever at 24-6. Kenwood also finished 9-2 in district play while it also won the district regular season title.
“I thought we were amazing this year,” Largin said. “It was really hard for teams to score on us and I felt that because of the way our team played and the way we all pitched, it made this season so much fun.”
Kenwood was particularly difficult to score against. They gave up nine runs in the opening game of the season and then went on a 14-game stretch where teams never scored more than two runs. Lone Oak managed five runs before Kenwood fell back in place defensively shutting out three of its next six opponents. Overall, teams averaged just over 2.5 runs a game and Largin was largely responsible for that.
She was 17-3 overall as a starter and 9-1 in district play. Her .043 ERA was the best in the city and could have earned her the Pitcher of the Year award. But she was also solid at the plate with a .373 batting average, her first home run of the season and 10 doubles.
Yet Largin feels her offense struggled for much of the year.
“I wasn’t satisfied with my batting this year,” Largin said. “It wasn’t as good as it usually is. I batted over .300 but I got on base more last year and had bigger hits, clutch hits. I was more of a contact hitter this year.”
Largin, a sophomore, has been around long enough to remember Tia Johnson, who was a former All Area Player and Pitcher of the Year. Johnson, who holds the school record in wins and strikeouts and was among the best pitchers the city has produced, is Largin’s summer league coach.
“I want to be one of the top pitchers like Tia was,” Largin said. “That’s a goal of mine. I want to be considered the best in the city and one of the best in the state.”