When Hickman freshman Whitney Grathwohl stepped up to the plate in the left-handed batter’s box, the Rock Bridge Bruins might not have thought anything of it. But when she stepped into the right-handed batter’s box the next time up and smacked a double into the left-field gap, she forced the Bruins to take notice.
Grathwohl later scored in the inning and helped the Kewpies (13-7) beat rival Rock Bridge 3-0 Friday, dropping the Bruins to 6-14 on the season.
The Kewpies’ pesky No. 9 hitter is a high school softball rarity. Grathwohl has become a switch-hitter this season, making it harder for opposing teams to consistently get her out. Coach Courtney Haskell and Grathwohl agreed on making the move and trying it out during the Kewpie Classic Softball Tournament last weekend. It’s stuck.
Grathwohl, naturally right-handed, has been taking batting practice and hitting soft toss from both sides of the plate. Haskell has quickly noticed her improvement from the left side.
“She’s been working on it a lot,” Haskell said. “Every game she is getting more and more confidence hitting left-handed.”
Haskell made the move because Grathwohl has good speed, and therefore is a tough out because she is quick out of the box from the left side. Grathwohl is also a good bunter when hitting left-handed.
“It puts more pressure on the defense,” Haskell said. “She starts out two steps closer to first base (when hitting left-handed).”
Haskell decides which side Grathwohl will be hitting from before each one of Grathwohl’s at-bats. Haskell looks at many factors including who’s on base, where the runners are, and the score of the game.
“I like hitting from both sides,” Grathwohl said. “It’s fun. I like that it’s a challenge because it’s something that I haven’t really done before.”