By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. — PENDLETON — There is really no need to look further than the Pendleton Heights vs. Roncalli softball regional championship game to know what Bailey Benefiel is all about.
The game was played at Roncalli, a team that was ranked No. 1 in the state and a team with a starting pitcher in Kendra Lynch, who had already been snapped up by an NCAA Division I school.
It didn't matter. Benefiel shut them down and lifted the Arabians to the semistate. For that reason and multitude of others, Benefiel is the 2013 THB Softball Pitcher of the Year.
"It was an exciting game," said Benefiel. "The entire team was up and ready for that game."
"I didn't see anybody better this year," said PH coach Rob Davis. "We played some pretty good teams, but she can compete with anybody."
Even though she's not the typical power pitcher, blowing the pitch by hitter after hitter, she still averaged 9.8 strikeouts per 7 innings.
"She's a strikeout pitcher," said Davis. "The rise ball is her go-to pitch. But when the hitters know that and then lay off it, she has a great curve and she can get them with that."
"I can throw a lot of pitches," said Benefiel. "If I get ahead in the count, that's important. I can usually get them to swing at bad pitches."
She didn't throw many bad ones, averaging just one walk every four innings with a 1.09 ERA and a 16-4 record.
"Our goal is to not fall behind in the count," said Davis. "We try to work ahead. She could get that fast ball for a first pitch strike. When she's on you can still hear that pop in the mitt."
The Arabians averaged just over one error per game and that defense was a source of comfort for the junior pitcher. "It didn't really change the way I pitched," said Benefiel. "But when (the opponents) hit it, I was confident the defense would make plays."
Benefiel is spending her summer playing for the Indy Dreams Gold traveling softball team.
"I started playing travel ball when I was 8," said Benefiel. "I really like to play. I've made a lot of friends playing softball."
To play at the college level, she knows there are things she still needs to improve.
"I think I can get better at everything," said Benefiel. "I can always get stronger and pitch with greater speed."
Area teams will have to figure out a way to get some hits against her for one more season and that has proven to be no easy task the past two seasons.
Past All THB teams and players of the year can be found online: Saturday -- Girls Track; Sunday -- Boys Track; Monday -- Boys Golf; Tuesday, Wednesday -- Baseball