A pitcher of exellence

Published 7:12 pm Friday, June 29, 2012

Southside’s Savannah Mumford went 18-5 this year with a 1.35 ERA while totaling a career-best 234 strikeouts to win her third straight WDN Pitcher of the Year honor. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

CHOCOWINITY — All the pieces are starting to come together now for Savannah Mumford and the pitcher looks something like a picture of excellence.
As a freshman, Mumford was a raw talent who was armed with a 60 MPH fastball that disarmed even the best hitters.
Two season’s later the Southside star’s fastball is still as deadly as ever, except now she’s benefited from a sharp curve as well a learning one.
Mumford recently wrapped up her junior season and it was her best yet as she went 18-5 for the Seahawks with a 1.35 ERA as she mowed down a career-high 234 batters while walking a career-low 30 to win her third straight Washington Daily News Pitcher of the Year honor.
“I thought this was my best year,” Mumford said. “I had a handle on what I was doing, I had plenty of experience and I knew most of the players and how to pitch to them.”
With Mumford’s knowledge of area hitters catching up to her talent, the combination proved to be a winning one for the Seahawks and their coach John Lohman.
“Experience has helped her a lot,” Lohman said. “Her strikeout numbers have increased each year and I think that’s because we are learning the batters that are good and we’re learning what it takes to get past them. Then when you bring a freshman up against her … Good luck.”
As a freshman Mumford went 18-5 with 167 strikeouts to 33 walks. The next season she finished 17-4, but upped her punch-out total to 205 while the number of free passes issued stayed the same. This year she fanned 234 batters and lowered her base on balls to 30.
While she has developed in the art of pitching, she has also developed a deadly curve. The pitch has overtaken her fastball as her favorite and when she is on top of her game the other team is quickly out of it.
“The advent of the curveball, which we kind of discovered last year, has become her bread and butter pitch this year. It was the one she was most comfortable with,” Lohman said. “She can locate it over the plate, on the corner or off the corner and that’s difficult for batters.”
Aside from the fastball and curve, Mumford sprinkles in a changeup and a screwball every now and then to keep batters off balance.
“She locates her pitches and changes speeds well,” Lohman said. “When you have a batter guessing at the pitch and they’re not sure which pitch is coming she is still fast enough to get it past them or force a mistake in hitting. If you ever have the batter guessing you’re going to win that battle most of the time.”
With that in mind, it’s the Seahawks who have won most of the time as Southside picked up its third straight Four Rivers Conference championship this year and Mumford’s play has been a big factor in the team’s success.
“Pitching means everything. If you don’t at least have good pitching you’re doomed,” Lohman said. “When you have excellent pitching you have a great chance to win. I’ve told this team we are as good as any that went to the state tournament and there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get there.”
Getting there is the goal next season, as Mumford will be entering her senior year, and while she has been unhittable on the mound, it seems as if no one can get her out when she’s in the batter’s box. This year the leadoff hitter batted an astounding .549 and had an on-base percentage of .629. The combination of stellar pitching and slick hitting led Lohman to call her the best player he has ever coached and has him excited about Mumford’s prospects for next season, as well as the team’s.
“She can do whatever she wants to do,” Lohman said. “The only time I don’t have confidence in her is when she doesn’t have confidence in herself. When she walks out on to the field and is ready to play and ready to win I’m relaxed. She’s the best player all-around player that I’ve coached and I count on her to be the best player I’ve ever coached every game.”