Washington brings the ‘fire and ice’|Hutchins and Lang provide one-two pitching punch

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Staff Writer

In baseball, and softball, two aces are always better than one.
For the Washington 12U softball all-stars, Haley Hutchins and Kelsey Lang are the aces in the hole. The aces, which form a formidable one-two pitching punch, have helped propel Washington to the 2009 Babe Ruth Softball 12U World Series for the first time in league history.
And the all-stars will continue to count on the tandem, nicknamed “fire and ice,” in the World Series.
Like former Atlanta Braves pitchers John Smoltz and Greg Maddux, the original “fire and ice,” before them, Hutchins and Lang bring contrasting styles to the mound.
Hutchins is the “emotional,” “fiery” flamethrower that can sit down the opposition when she’s throwing strikes, according to Washington Babe Ruth league president Greg Dority, whose daughter, Catie, plays for the 12U team.
“When she’s on her game, they can’t catch up with her,” he said.
Hutchins’ mother, Wendy, a coach for Washington, said her daughter has always thrown with good velocity.
“She throws hard,” the elder Hutchins said.
But thanks to some professional pitching instruction, the younger Hutchins is now finding success within the strike zone.
“Now that she’s found her strike zone, and her placement is good, she’s gotten that philosophy that a lot of teams aren’t used to seeing,” Coach Hutchins said about her daughter.
Lang, the “cerebral,” “icy” precision artist, has always had exceptional control and can get an out when she needs it, Dority said.
“She’s very calm and never gets rattled,” the league president said.
Like Maddux, Lang doesn’t have to rely on a heavy fastball to have success.
“She’s got several pitches she can throw and put where she wants them,” Coach Hutchins said.
Although they have contrasting pitching philosophies, Hutchins and Lang practice with the same pitching instructor. Hutchins said she enjoys practicing and learning how to pitch alongside her good friend and teammate, Lang.
“Me and Kelsey go to the same pitching instructor, and he gives us certain drills that we have to do,” Hutchins said.
All the hard work has led to success for Lang and Hutchins, and the team.
“This pitching combination makes us very tough to beat,” Dority said.
To make sure neither pitcher does get beat in the World Series, Washington has been focusing on defensive drills during practice for the tournament, which starts Thursday afternoon at the Onnie Cockrell Athletic Complex in Wilson.
“We spend a lot of time on defense,” Dority said. “These girls are out there two and a half, three hours every night — the majority of the time focusing on defense.”
Washington will finish up prepping for the World Series tonight.
“We’re concentrating on getting everything right, and hoping that nothing will come our way that we haven’t gone over in practice,” Coach Hutchins said.