Hereford senior pitcher LeAnne Collins has improved in each of her four seasons playing varsity softball, and so have the Bulls.
She believes it can make for a special season. A lefty on the mound and at the plate, where she's the team's leadoff batter, Collins has been the catalyst as the No. 6 Bulls have gone 8-1.
As a pitcher, she's 7-0 and has struck out 76 batters in 38 innings. At the plate, she's batting .833 with 19 runs, 11 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.
Control is her key when pitching, as she likes to keep batters guessing with pitch selection and location. Speed is her biggest asset on offense, with an ability to take whatever a defense is willing to give her.
Collins, who maintains a weighted 4.76 GPA, also played four years of varsity volleyball. She's an officer for the school's Kids Helping Hopkins, which raises money for the Johns Hopkins Chidren Center, and Future Business Leaders of America.
Collins is set to play softball at Salisbury, which is currently ranked No. 1 in Division III, with plans to major in business. She would like to go to law school and become a corporate lawyer.
What has been the key to the team's success so far this season?
This is definitely the strongest team we've had. We have more consistent hitting and — top to bottom — our lineup is stronger, and I think our core is stronger than it's been.
How has your pitching improved since your freshman year?
I have more control. My speed hasn't changed as much because I'm more of a movement pitcher. But I've also gotten a lot better at the game I call. I call my own pitches and I noticed I used to give up some hits I shouldn't have because I wasn't picking the best sequences. I feel like the sequences I've been picking have been a lot stronger.
How many pitches do you throw?
I have a fastball, change-up, riseball, screwball and curveball — so, five.
What's the key to getting a tough out?
You have to read the hitter and where she is in the box is important. A lot of the good hitters I'm facing I already know from club, so I try to remember anything about their swing or if they were close on a pitch, I try to give them the opposite. So, if I go up and out, I may try to go down and in to keep their eyes moving.
What is the key to batting leadoff?
My job is to get on. It's really about just reading the defense and seeing what they're giving me, because I bunt, slap and hit. A lot of leadoff hitters will just bunt every time. But if the third baseman is up, I may slap it down the line.
What are the advantages being left-handed on the mound and at the plate?
For pitching, left-handed the ball comes out differently and most people don't see a lot of left-handed pitching, so I definitely think it gives me an advantage. And then hitting left-handed really works as an advantage because my offensive game is about speed and I'm two steps closer to first base.
What do you enjoy most about softball?
I've been playing since I was 5, and the people you meet is a big part of it. I've met some of my best friends through softball and I love playing the sport and I'm excited to get to play it in college, too.
What fundraisers have you helped with to raise money for the Kids Helping Hopkins program?
We've done Kilometers for Kids [races]. We've had 1K, 2K and 5K races. I won the 1K last year! We've made Christmas cards and also just sold [Orioles] tickets that were donated with all the proceeds going to the center.
How rewarding is it for you to help others?
I think it's so cool, especially because you get to see the things you do directly impact the kids there. The friendship bracelets we sent goes to all the kids, plus we've raised a lot of money to help research.
What is one thing not many people know about you?
I did competitive Irish step dancing for probably five years. I used to live in Syracuse, and upstate New York is really big in Irish step dancing.
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