Prep softball: Beutler changes speeds to baffle batters
Pitching often is cerebral knowing where to place the ball, how hard to throw it and how to get out hitters.
Hunter softball hurler Jorden Beutler re-examines that mindset every time she toes the rubber.
"Every time I pitch, I set goals for myself," Beutler said. "I try to focus on one thing. If I know I need to work on something, I'll put my mind to it. I'm never satisfied with where I am. There's not a better feeling [than] knowing you pitched well and did what you were supposed to do. It makes me feel so happy."
Beutler has had plenty of reason to celebrate this season. The junior had all eight of Hunter's wins entering the week. She has practiced perfecting her mechanics while others enjoy their time away.
"She is an absolute joy to coach," Hunter coach Wes Haymond said. "She has a great attitude and a tremendous desire to do better year after year. She does all the work it takes to be a decent pitcher in this sport. She has improved her ability to throw strikes and get ahead in the count."
Seeking to improve, Beutler took pitching lessons at Salt Lake Community College over the summer. She worked on her rise ball and off-speed pitches. While her velocity still is average, she doesn't need to rely on speed to get out hitters, especially with a veteran team behind her.
"I'm not that fast, but I keep hitters off-balance," said Beutler, who calls the circle change her best pitch. "I mostly rely on my defense. I've changed stuff around with my mechanics, but hopefully now with region starting, I'll get buckled down and stay consistent. I'd say I'm halfway there."
According to Haymond, Beutler compensates for speed with her ability to move the ball around the strike zone. She averages five to six strikeouts per game, an improvement from previous seasons.
"As she develops physically, speed will come," Haymond said. "She's very accomplished at hitting locations. When we call pitches in an area, she throws it there. She is able to throw down, up and off-speed. That helps her when she's facing the good part of the lineup. She's not dominating yet, but she can be."
The Wolverines entered the week 8-4 overall and 1-1 in Region 2. After blasting West 12-2 in the region opener, Hunter lost to Taylorsville 7-3.
With only two players gone from last year's eighth-place team at the state tournament, Beutler and the Wolverines are hopeful of a higher finish this season. The 17-year-old is pondering her college options.
"She wants to get as good as she could possibly get," Haymond said. "The way she can improve is just playing. She has great family support. They are totally committed for her to be a successful college player."
Beutler intends to participate in Hunter's accelerated softball program over the summer in an effort to improve even more.