She goes by “T” – a nickname Tamara Statman, a senior pitcher at Phoenix Horizon – was given six years ago by a club coach.
Maybe instead she should go by “K,” as in “strikeout,” because the University of Arizona signee has become the career high school strikeout leader in Arizona after reaching the 1,000 mark on April 20.
And with playoffs starting last weekend, her totals could grow to be all but unreachable.
Statman is believed to be only the third pitcher in the nation to ever reach 1,000 strikeouts from 43 feet. The distance was moved back uniformly from 40 feet for the 2000-01 season.
Statman, an American Family Insurance ALL-USA preseason selection, entered the week at 24-6 with a 1.40 ERA and 257 strikeouts in 180 innings pitched. For her career, she is 84-29 (a .743 win average) and now has 1,049 strikeouts, mainly because of such good movement on her pitches that leave batters swinging at air.
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Statman, though, says getting a strikeout isn’t her primary goal when she’s in the circle.
“Strikeouts are awesome,” she concedes, “and you can strike out as many as you want, but if you don’t win, it doesn’t matter. My goal is to win state and when we come together as a team, we have as good of a chance as any to win it all.”
Impressively, 14 of the senior’s wins so far have been shutouts.
Statman suffered through a stretch in the middle of this season where an inflamed muscle in her left leg caused a lot of pain when pitching. She declined to discuss the injury, but the injury has healed and that’s scary news for opponents.
They not only have to face her pitching, but also have to deal with her dangerous bat. Statman has put up career bests in average (.541), doubles (19), on-base percentage (.596) and slugging percentage (.846) and has not struck out in 114 plate appearances.
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As talented as she is on the softball field, she’s even more impressive out of uniform.
The senior carries a true unweighted 4.0 GPA and has not received anything less than an A in any high school class. She also has been taking dual enrollment classes at a local college. She’s in the top 10 percent of her grade and, away from school, has raised thousands of dollars through her “T K’s for Skin Cancer.”
Statman takes donations for every strikeout with the proceeds going to the Arizona Skin Cancer Foundation to provide financial assistance to skin cancer patients who cannot afford treatment and to help with community education and awareness.
She also volunteers with The Friendship Circle in Arizona that provides assistance and support to families of children with special needs and individuals and families with other family crises, such as addiction.
Statman also has a full LinkedIn profile and a website, TStatman2015.com, that covers her athletic and philanthropic efforts.
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As for career aspirations, her parents work in creating and running merchandising stores for politicians, and Statman has rubbed shoulders with everyone from John McCain to Fred Thompson to Sarah Palin. She’s even met Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
“I can see myself getting involved in politics,” she said, “but not directly as a representative. Maybe more behind the scenes or even on camera. I’d love to do politically-oriented broadcasting.”
The standout student-athlete says she’d also consider working in sports, perhaps as an agent or sports commentator. Not surprisingly, her plans as of now are to major in political science and minor in sports communication once she reaches Tucson this fall.
One thing that’s helped give Statman the confidence to stare in at a batter with the bases loaded and a 3-and-2 count or speak in front of hundreds of fellow students at a Junior State of America “spring congress” (she won the Gavel Award as the best orator at an event last month) is her strong background in the martial arts.
The teenager started in Taekwondo at 4 and earned her first black belt at 7. Today, she’s a third-degree black belt and loves how “it’s a mentally tough sport that has most definitely helped me in softball, too.”
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She says Taekwondo has taught her how to be tough and rebound when things don’t go well.
“When you’re sparring,” she said, “you get kicked and kicked hard, but you have to get back up and keep fighting. In softball, when you give up a hit as a pitcher, it’s like getting kicked or punched and it’s all about how you react to it. It comes down to whether you’re going to give up or push forward.”
She says the repetition in the martial arts is comparable to softball.
“In Taekwondo, you do a set of movements that you keep doing over and over, which is like in softball where you take a thousand swings or throw a thousand pitches, but you have to do it perfectly to get it down right,” she said. “It’s true, what the saying is: ‘You play how you practice.’ “