Even though she proved to be a first-team all-conference player in her first year as No. 1 starting pitcher last year, ace righthander Ashley Lutz had a flaw in her game.
Her pitching motion had a little crow-hop in it, and although it was rarely a problem before, it did become exposed in last year’s district playoff loss to .
“They must’ve called me for illegal pitch five or six times,” Lutz said. “It bothered me a little. And you saw what happened. We lost.”
But rather than sulk about it, this week’s O’Fallon Patch Spotlight Athlete of the Week, who finished the 2010 fall season with a 13-10 record and a 2.47 ERA, decided to do something about it.
So while the rest of the St. Dominic High community spent the winter cheering , Lutz spent her winter working on eliminating that annoying little extra hop from her pitching motion.
“I have to credit (St. Dominic head coach Noah Duncan),” Lutz said. “He’s the best coach I ever had. He just worked with me all the time on it. He would lay on the ground in front of me to make sure I did (everything) right.”
And boy, has fixing that flaw worked out well for Lutz.
Over the summer, she was a standout pitcher for the St. Louis Angels and the Missouri Heat elite club teams, and already one week into the 2011 fall season, Lutz has been one of the best pitchers in all of St. Louis area girls softball.
Three games in, Lutz is already 3-0, with a 1.11 ERA, with 19 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched. And twice already, Lutz has held opponents to just one hit in what has been a simply brilliant first week of the season for her and her Crusader teammates.
“Coach says if I get a no-hitter, he’s taking us to Red Lobster,” Lutz said. “I want to go bad, so I want that no-hitter. And it’s been two times already, they only got one. I’m going to get us that no-hitter one of these days.”
Too bad Lutz and Duncan didn’t have that deal on Sept. 16, 2010.
That day, the then-junior, who was barely one month into her first season as a varsity starting pitcher, threw a sensational 2-0 no-hitter against a potent John F. Kennedy Catholic High team, which only lost three games in 2010, and feature Archdiocesan Athletic Association Player of the Year Paige Miller.
“Ashley is such a talented player,” Duncan said. “She works really hard, and she’s got this wonderful, positive attitude. Whenever anything negative happens, Ashley’s always the one that is positive with her teammates and encouraging her teammates. She’s a great girl.”
And she can do more than just pitch.
Last year, Lutz proved she’s quite a hitter too, posting a .303 batting average, with a home run and 16 RBIs in 76 at-bats.
This year, she’s off to an even better start, with a .500 batting average (five hits in 10 at-bats), with three RBIs, in three straight St. Dom wins.
“She’s going to be an important player in our lineup too,” Duncan said. “She’s been working to improve her hitting. She’s put forth a lot of effort, and it’s beginning to translate onto the field.”
With week one now in the books, the Crusaders will turn their sights to an important week two.
Monday’s contest was a home game against Wentzville Holt High. On Tuesday, St. Dominic will play at Lutheran St. Charles, before closing the week with another home game on Friday, Sept. 2, against Bishop DuBourg High.
All three games will first pitch at 4:30 p.m.
“I’m really excited about all the girls we have, and the work they put in,” Duncan said.
Lutz added, “It’s very comforting as a pitcher to know that I have such good teammates around me. I think we can go real far this year.”
And with an ace pitcher, and surprisingly potent hitter, like this week’s O’Fallon Patch Spotlight Athlete of the Week, Ashley Lutz leading the way, the sky is truly the limit for St. Dominic High softball in 2011.