A good change-up can be the hardest pitch for a batter to hit. If the wind-up and arm action are deceptive enough to fool the hitter into thinking fastball, the off-speed pitch can be devastating in a pitcher's arsenal.
Susquehannock senior pitcher Madison Staub put that on display during Monday afternoon's softball game against a youthful Eastern York squad.
Staub kept the Golden Knights' batting order off balance, striking out seven in a 13-0 complete-game, two-hitter at Eastern York Middle School. The win keeps Susquehannock unbeaten on the season.
"When you're coming into ninth grade and seeing all these pitches moving around, it's altogether different than what you've been used to seeing," said Eastern York coach Rich Rohrbaugh, whose lineup Monday included five freshmen starters. "(Staub) spotted her ball real well. I don't think we got the same pitch twice. Deception is everything, especially on a good change-up."
Staub fanned three of the first four Eastern York batters she faced and retired six straight before No. 7 hitter Morgan Winter opened the third inning with a walk. The Golden Knights picked up their first hit of the game with one out in the fourth as No. 3 hitter Emily Smith lined a clean hit past shortstop into left field.
"I've really worked hard at perfecting (the change-up)," Staub said. "It can be deadly when it is on. It's supposed to be like a knuckle(ball) because it's really moving as it comes in. I really focused on making it look like a fastball."
Smith had Eastern York's only other hit in the game when she rapped a two-out single to center in the sixth. The Golden Knights managed just six base-runners in the game.
"(Staub's change-up) is darn good," Susquehannock coach Jeff Deardorff said. "It's got a lot of movement to it and the arm movement is virtually identical (to her other pitches)."
Susquehannock (5-0, 3-0 YAIAA Division II) plated all the runs it would need in the top of the first. Speedy center fielder Mallory Lebo opened with a walk, stole second and scored on a triple by No. 2 hitter Lily Yoakum. Staub doubled home Yoakum for the second run, and No. 6 hitter Megan Green's sacrifice fly to center brought in Staub.
"We always try to score early and often," said Yoakum, who has seen her team score 56 runs in five games this spring. "I got a pitch right down the middle. I believe a good hitter gets in the batter's box with a plan. If it's close, you foul it off. Eventually, the pitcher is going to slip. I think Mallory is the fastest player in York County. I try to make her run (the bases) as much as I can."
The first seven hitters in the Warriors lineup all scored at least once and six batters collected RBIs. Yoakum was 3-for-4 with a walk, three runs scored and two RBI while Staub went 2-for-2 with three walks, three runs scored and an RBI. Third baseman Anna Bryan added a three-run double in the seventh.
Lebo showed off her game-changing speed throughout the game from the leadoff spot in the order. The lefty-swinging Lebo beat out a bunt in the third inning and hit a 70-foot double down the left-field line in the seventh. She also scored a sixth-inning run when she walked, stole second, advanced to third when the throw to second went into center field and scored on an infield hit by Yoakum.
"(Lebo) gets to first base in under three seconds," Deardorff said. "She doesn't hit them very far, but she doesn't need to. She puts tremendous pressure on a defense. She can fly."
Eastern York (4-2, 1-0 Division III) opened the season with four wins but has dropped games to undefeated Central York and Susquehannock.
"We are young and we are going to take some lumps along the way," Rohrbaugh said. "(Susquehannock) has a little older team than what we have and I think that plays into everybody's expectations and the outcome. I'm not disappointed at all."