MURFREESBORO – Siegel junior Veronica Westfall’s first year of being full time in the pitcher’s circle may have surprised some.
It hasn’t surprised Siegel second-year softball coach Perry Lyons.
Westfall, who was named the District 7-AAA Pitcher of the Year and The Daily News Journal’s Pitcher of the Year, has been dominant on the pitcher’s rubber. She’s close to 300 strikeouts for the season with three losses to rival Riverdale.
“She will do whatever the team needs,” Lyons said. “When I first talked to her about pitching, she said, ‘I’ll do whatever you need me to do.’
“If that’s play shortstop, then she would do that. I think that’s where she’s received most interest from college coaches — in the field.”
Westfall, a transfer from Smyrna, played the majority of her first two years at shortstop for the Lady Bulldogs. She was a starter as a freshman when Makenzie Prince led Smyrna to its only Class AAA softball state title.
Now, Westfall is attempting to do the same at Siegel. Siegel (33-5) plays Hardin Valley (29-12) at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Starplex in the opening round of the TSSAA’s Class AAA state tournament. Siegel’s appearance is the program’s first since finishing in the Final Four at state in 2009.
Westfall is the lone member of Siegel’s team with experience in the state tournament. But she has never pitched in the state tournament — until Tuesday. Still, the right-handed pitcher doesn’t feel pressure to perform.
“I kind of do, but I know my defense behind me and the offense has my back,” Westfall said. “I think everyone on the team is backing me (this week). But I feel like if I have an off game, our team could have an off game, so I’ve got to try and be a leader on the mound.”
There haven’t been many off nights for Westfall in the pitcher’s circle.
She struck out 19 in a 12-inning game to help lead the Lady Stars past Coffee County in the Region 4-AAA championship game.
Westfall went 21-1 in the regular season with a 0.89 ERA and 212 strikeouts. She also hit .425 with five home runs and 31 RBIs from the leadoff spot.
“She’s our leadoff batter because she has the ability to get on base,” Lyons said. “She has both speed and power at the plate. But I also know if she doesn’t get on, our No. 2 hitter Ciera Purvis is also fast. She’s probably a little faster than Veronica.”
Contact Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Kreager.
Class AAA State Tournament
Siegel (33-5) vs. Hardin Valley (29-12)
When: 4 p.m.
How much: $10 admission, $5 parking