Senior Schlichtman remains dominant
Turn your hand sideways. Turn your wrist back, and push it up. Flick your wrist backward, and then use your arm to push it up. That’s the secret to Arkansas Lady’Back senior pitcher Heather Schlichtman’s success.
The arm and wrist contortions cause the ball to rise upon its release. It’s called a rise ball, and it’s Schlichtman’s favorite pitch.
“I strike a lot of people out [with that pitch],” she said. “I’ve had a lot of success with it.”
That she has. Entering her senior season as the ace of the Arkansas pitching staff, Schlichtman holds several statistical records for the Lady’Backs. In her most productive season to-date, the hurler rewrote the Arkansas record books. During her freshman season in 2001 Schlichtman set the single-season earned run average record with a 0.93 mark, and holds the career ERA record with an overall average of 1.57. That same season she set the single-season record for wins (26), shutouts in a season (11) and strikeouts in a game (15). She also holds the career record for shutouts with 20.
All of this is in her repertoire of pitches, including the rise ball, which can be a difficult pitch to learn.
“It probably takes a year or two for a pitcher to learn,” she said. “But, I tell the people I work with ‘I’m still in college, and I’ve been throwing it since I’ve been in junior high. I’m still mastering it to get it to jump more.’ You never have a perfect pitch. There’s always something to work on.”
This work carried over into her sophomore season. That year, Schlichtman became the first Lady’Back circle worker to pitch two no-hitters in a season. The first came in a 4-0 victory against Boston College, and the second came at Lady’Back yard when she no-hit Auburn, becoming the first pitcher to throw a no-no against a Southeastern Conference opponent.
Schlichtman has carried this success into her senior season. In seven appearances in the young season, she has a 0.77 ERA, with an opponent’s batting average of .119. She threw a no-hitter against UNLV last weekend at the UNLV tournament. Her efforts earned her SEC Pitcher of the Week honors.
She’s continuing her efforts from the fall schedule, when she struck out 18 against Neosho County Community College on Sept. 20. Included in her 18 K’s were the 13 in a row she sat down at one point. She calls this one of her more softball moments.
“I struck out 13 in a row. I’ve never done that,” Schlichtman said.
All of this comes after a junior season that she considers rough because of a herniated disc in her back. She said she’s 100 percent this season after a rigorous exercise routine last summer.
“I didn’t event take a break at all this season,” she said. “I knew that I didn’t want to have a rough season like I did last year. I was running on the treadmill and doing pool workouts. When I was home, I couldn’t work with [Arkansas head coach] Carrie [Dever-Boaz] so I worked out with my old pitching coach, just to get back to where I need to be.”
Through this work she has seen both her stats and her pitches continue to rise.