James Benedetto | @james_benedetto, Assistant Sports Editor
February 22, 2020
As senior Taylor Clark settled back into the box and waited for the sixth pitch of the at-bat, she exuded confidence. It was the fourth time during Saturday’s doubleheader that Clark worked the count full.
For many hitters, a 3-2 count is nerve-wracking. If a hitter is too passive, she could draw a walk or strike out looking. The same is true for an aggressive approach; if the hitter makes contact, there’s a good chance for a base hit but if the hitter misses, they take a solemn walk back to the dugout.
All of this uncertainty did not affect Clark as she waited for the next pitch from Penn State’s Bailey Parshall and took a swing. The ball exploded off the bat and wound up over the right-center field wall. The two-run home run on her senior day was not just a special moment for Clark; it gave Alabama its first lead of the game, en route to a 14-6 victory.
“It felt great,” Clark said. “Just to be able to do that, I think I had 18 people here from family and friends, and some of them have never even seen me play softball before and this is their first opportunity to do that. To be able to do that for them to see was amazing.”
Although the home run is something softball players dream of, there is no guarantee that every time the count is full, it will result in a victory for the batter. Many times the pitcher wins — just ask Clark, who struck out on a full count against Louisville and struck out in the at-bat before the homer.
“The mentality should be, or it needs to be, ‘I’m better than the pitcher’ once you step in the box,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “Last year, we talked about just competing in the box and I think it was about halfway through the season — we played a midweek game and we won, but we struck out maybe seven times and it was just not a good game for the hitters. We really challenged them the rest of the way just to compete your butt off.”
Whether it was experience or the ‘I’m better than the pitcher’ idea, Clark was not fazed and waited on the outside pitch. Clark said that she was looking for an outside pitch to hit during her at-bat.
The inning prior, Clark swung and missed on that same pitch, resulting in a strikeout. Rather than showing bunt and shortening her approach at the plate, the Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, native took her normal swing and made contact.
“I was pretty confident that pitch was coming, especially in a full count,” Clark said. “I knew she got me with that in my first at-bat. I was just looking for that and was ready for that.”
Clark, along with the rest of the Alabama hitters, will look to keep her momentum going in the final game of the Easton Bama Bash, a rematch with Louisville on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
“We had 15 hits in this game, which to me says a lot about the hitters in terms of they are seeing a lot of pitches,” Murphy said. “You’re taking a lot of walks, but you’re still getting 15 hits, which is pretty cool because usually when you see a lot of walks, you become complacent and not aggressive and then you let good pitches go by. But I thought the hitters did a really, really good job.”