Lefty Kacey Starwalt to lead Butler University into next season
A crafty, left-handed pitcher is among the hottest commodities in all of softball -- someone to effectively complement the usual trend of right-handed, power throwers.
Kacey Starwalt fills that role for the Butler University (BU) Bulldogs.
The junior out of Mattoon, Illinois, went 5-1 on the season in 21 appearances, including six starts and two complete games. She finished with a 4.23 ERA and struck out 23 batters in 48 innings pitched. Her career record with the Bulldogs is now 12-6, and she has wins and starts in each of her three seasons thus far. And while she may not be an overwhelming strikeout artist, her technique, combined with her left-handed throwing, makes her an effective weapon on the mound for BU.
"She's a lefty, and we love having lefties on our staff," Bulldogs Head Coach Scott Hall recently told the East Central Reporter. "She's got great spin, good movement -- and when her stuff is on, it's good."
The Bulldogs, who were 28-24 on the year and won their first ever Big East tournament title, prefer to use Starwalt out of the bullpen. Despite the occasional start, Hall has felt that is where her style is most effective, though he certainly has left an opening for a more consistent role in the starting rotation moving forward as well.
"She hasn't really been a starter for us," Hall said. "I think she's better off the bench, but you never know, if she comes in next year, she might have a role as a starter. But Kacey is a durable, tall lefty, so we're excited for her senior year, that's for sure."
As Starwalt moves into her final year as a Bulldog, the former four-year letter winner, four-time all-conference award winner and 2013 Decatur H&R Player of the Year out of Mattoon High School does still have a few things to work on to help BU on their quest to duplicate this past season's achievements.
"The areas that she still has to work on is consistency and control," Hall said. "That's where her focus is right now."
But perhaps more importantly, the upperclassman will be expected to take on a bigger leadership position. With the squad losing only three seniors from this past year and an incoming group of freshman hoping to get playing time, the guidance and influence of the coming season's senior class will be as important as ever. The Bulldogs are a relatively young team and will be looking to their seniors to impart wisdom on the rest of the group.
"She'll be coming into a senior leadership role," Hall said. "We expect that with all of our upperclassmen. We're anticipating her coming in and helping to fill that role, especially with the pitching staff."
Hall hopes to combine Starwalt's pitching ability out of the pen and the leadership she'll be providing as a senior with his other talent on the team for an improvement on last year's already strong finish. The Bulldogs also made their first NCAA tournament, despite two disappointing early losses that eliminated them.
But Hall is looking for BU to make it back to the tourney this coming year.
"We're looking forward to another successful season," he said.