A four-year starter, four-time All-Baltimore County first-team performer and All-Metro first-team selection last spring, Hereford senior Erin Collins has always been feared for her bat.
This season, she also asserted herself as one of the region's premier pitchers.
At the plate, Collins batted .656 with 42 RBIs and 29 runs scored. She hit eight home runs, giving her 24 for her high school career, which broke the school's all-time record. In a 12-0 win over Kenwood, she hit for the cycle. She never struck out.
In the circle, she went 15-3, including wins over No. 2 Dulaney and No. 7 Lansdowne and top-ranked Eastern Tech, the school's first against the seven-time defending Baltimore County champion Mavericks in seven years. She threw a no-hitter against Loch Raven in the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs, striking out 17. In 108 innings, she had a 1.10 ERA, allowing just 18 earned runs in 20 games. She struck out 181 batters to finish with 410 in her high school career.
Being able to combine both a pitcher's and hitter's mindset is part of what made Collins so successful.
"When I'm pitching, I kind of think of what I would be thinking in that scenario if I was in the batter's box," Collins said. "At the same time, when I'm at the plate, I'm thinking about where I would throw it."
On a team with four freshman starters, coach Laura Blama credited Collins' leadership in games and practices as big reason the fourth-ranked Bulls reached the county championship game and the Class 2A North Region final, where they fell a run short against the Mavericks in extra innings, 4-3.
"Erin is the type of player who makes others around her better," Blama said. "She mentors younger players, showing them how to perfect their footwork, play a bad hop, or improve their bat swing."
Though Collins is leaving, she took pride in setting up the Bulls for future success.
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"It was nice to be able to teach people younger than me about the game and use my experience to help them," she said. "Maybe sometimes what the coach said isn't working for them or they're just getting frustrated, so sometimes it's better to have a player help you and encourage you when you're struggling. Just have another voice to support them."
Also a standout volleyball player, Collins was named one of The Baltimore Sun's Athletes of the Year. She'll continue her softball career at Rutgers, where she plans to major in mathematics and engineering. On the SAT, she scored a 790 on the math portion, missing a perfect 800 by one problem.
"When Erin stepped onto the mound to pitch for us, she helped put our team in a position to win each and every ball game," Blama said. "She played her position so effectively and gave the rest of the defense the confidence that needed to also be successful. Her ability to hit the ball for average and power is a talent that we were lucky to have, and our team capitalized on it as much as we could."
The Bulls certainly did in that rare victory over the Mavericks, which Collins said was one of her favorite moments of the season.
"We hadn't beaten them in so long, and I played so many games against them going through the regular season and counties and the offseason," she said. "That was definitely a great moment. And that was one of my best games, so it was pretty nice to have them both go together."