A Team Player, Trish White Steps Back into the Pitching Circle

April 22, 2005 · Denise Gideon, MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - In the fall of 2004, Trish White strode up to Middle Tennessee Head Softball Coach Leigh Podlesny and made her intentions known. She aspired to become the starting centerfielder for the Blue Raiders in the 2005 season.

Pitching wasn't in White's game plan for the season, even though she made 15 appearances on the mound in 2004 as a freshman. She wanted to leave the pitching part of her career behind her and focus on her first love, the outfield.

"I supported Trish's decision to refocus and concentrate on playing in the outfield," Podlesny said. "Trish felt pitching wasn't one of her strengths, so we really didn't work on her pitching fundamentals in the fall."

White's strength, however, does lie in her unwavering desire to do anything she can to make the team successful. It was her attitude that brought White back into the pitching circle, though she vowed to never step inside it again.

In the first few weeks of the Blue Raider's 2005 season, Middle Tennessee suffered a blow that would bring White out of retirement. Senior pitcher Crystal Bobo informed Podlesny that she was departing the team, leaving the Blue Raiders with just one pitcher, freshman Ashley Katinas. It didn't take long for White's team spirit to kick in.

"I came up to Leigh the same day Bobo quit and told her I was ready to pitch," White said. "I would do whatever I needed to help the team."

A testament to the true meaning of team player, White and teammate Jennifer Dorais stepped back into the pitching circle. Dorais had also spent part of her previous two seasons with the Blue Raiders on the mound and had been playing exclusively in the infield as the 2005 season began.

As White prepared to enter a relief role and come into the game when Katinas needed a break, the Blue Raiders suffered yet another blow. Katinas developed an injury in March that continues to sideline her, which left the pitching duties solely to White and Dorias. The duo realized their team needed them to have the ball in their hands, and neither one would disappoint. Middle Tennessee was back in the pitching business with White and Dorais.

White's first appearance was on March 25 against Louisville at the Cardinals tournament. She followed that performance up later in the day with Michigan, the number one ranked team in the nation. Yes, No. 1 Michigan. Her first two appearances were precarious at best, but White never wavered in her continuing commitment to the team. She continued to work on her pitches and strove to improve.

"When I first found out I was going to pitch against Louisville and then No. 1 Michigan I was a little nervous, but then I got over it," White said. "I soon felt honored and inspired to start my pitching for the season against these two teams."

White tossed an inning against Louisville and an inning against Michigan and in the next two games the number of innings she pitched steadily increased. She threw her first complete game against Western Kentucky in the team's opening Sun Belt Conference game. Still trying to find her pitching legs, White allowed 10 hits and four runs in the Blue Raider loss. Since giving up 10 hits against the Toppers on April 9, White hasn't allowed a team to pin double figure hits on her since.

Although White carries a record of 0-5 on the season, she is pitching well enough to win. In her last seven appearances, White has a 1.45 ERA, allowing just 11 runs and striking out 23.

"I am just going out and doing the best I can, trying to give our team a chance to win the game," White said. "We are struggling right now with our hitting, but we are a good team, and if we can turn our bats around we can win games."

Speaking of White's bat, wow. She has stepped up her performance at the plate since entering the pitching circle. Before White returned to the mound, she was hitting .231 with three RBI. Since she has returned to pitching, White is pounding a whopping .429 in 42 at bats and has six RBI, including her first-ever homerun as a Blue Raider against Western Kentucky.

"I think I am doing better with my hitting because since I started pitching again, I haven't had time to think about it," White said. "I am also working on being intimidating at the plate." White flashes her most daring scowl, trying to hide just a hint of a smile. Yeah, sure, it's working.

White's next test comes this weekend when the Blue Raiders make their first Sun Belt road trip to New Mexico State. Middle Tennessee softball will be the last Blue Raider team to play a conference series in Las Cruces, New Mexico, as the Aggies are leaving the Sun Belt to join the WAC.

"I am ready," White says with confidence. "This team has been working hard and we are ready to put everything together, because we have been so close in so many games."

As long as White is ready, the team should be as well. She has been slicing up conference opponents like a hot knife through butter. At the plate, White is hitting a scorching .524 in eight games, with one double, three RBI and two runs scored. On the mound, White has a 1.77 ERA allowing just eight earned runs and has struck out 21.

A true lover of the game, White is the type of player fans love to watch and young girls should aspire to be like. She wants the ball, and knows what to do with it when she gets it.

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