Amanda Todd thought she was going to be a shortstop for the Montana State Billings softball program.
And for good reason.
She was an all-state shortstop for Billings Skyview and during her recruiting visit, took some grounders on the infield of Cenex Stadium.
Imagine her shock during the first day of fall practice when then head coach Tony Stone handed her a ball told Todd to go work with the pitchers.
“I was totally surprised,’’ she said. “I had no idea I was going to pitch coming in. I had to change absolutely everything about my pitching... my grips, my follow through ... everything.
“It was tough at first. I was frustrated.”
Todd was plenty happy Saturday, celebrating her 19th birthday with a complete game 6-3 win over Western Oregon.
The surging Yellowjackets (24-20, 19-13) won the second game 8-4 for their fifth consecutive victory and ninth win in their last 11 games.
Becca Frank’s lead-off home run in the fifth inning broke the Great Northwest Athletic Conference team single-season home run record. Teammates Nicole Colpron and Meg Harasymczuk belted homers in the second game to give the Yellowjackets 58 for the year.
They shared the previous record of 55 with Humboldt State.
Frank finished 5 for 7 in the two games with a home run, triple, four runs scored and two RBIs.
Working inside-out on batters, Todd scattered five hits and struck out a career-high 11.
“I really worked them inside today with my fast ball,’’ said Todd, who pitched 75 innings with 108 strikeouts last season for Skyview. “I’m a jamming pitcher. Once I get ahead in the count, I work my way outside.”
Todd had the Wolves reaching long on her curveball and put down WOU 1-2-3 in the first and fifth innings. She fanned two of three batters in each inning. Todd also struck out the final hitter of the game.
“Amanda has pitched very well for us lately,’’ said MSUB interim head coach Lisa Allen. “Some pitchers can work quickly. Others need to breathe and think about what they need to do. Amanda needed to slow down and think about her mechanics.
“She just threw strikes today and stayed ahead in the count on the hitters.”
Using five different pitches — drop, curve, changeup, rise ball and back door curve — Todd registered 80 strikes on 117 pitches. She was also backed by a defense that turned a swift 5-4-3 double play in the second inning and had third baseman Colpron make a hustling catch on a foul ball for the second out of the seventh inning.
“I’m way better now than I was at the beginning of the season,’’ she said. “I feel more comfortable pitching. I’m not as nervous. It’s exciting to pitch, to be in every play.
“I do actually enjoy pitching now.”
Of its six runs, only two were earned for MSUB as WOU made four errors. The Yellowjackets broke it open with a four-run third inning, with Tarn Potter’s misplayed grounder resulting in two runs.
“We took advantage today of what they gave us,’’ Allen said.
Colpron launched a two-run homer to left field in the third inning in the second game, while Harasymczuk lasered a three-run home run to right-center field, her 12th of the season in the fifth inning.
Kelsey Didion hit two, two-run home runs on consecutive at-bats for WOU.
MSUB pitcher Annaleisha Parsley went six innings for her 10th victory of the season. Teammate Kasie Conder struck out the side to finish the game. Conder threw strikes on 13 of 19 pitches.
NOTES: By dropping a single into center field on her final at-bat of the second game, MSUB’s Bobbie Lee extended her hitting streak to 11 games. ... WOU turned a triple play in the sixth inning. Wolves’ third baseman Ashley Gardner took a grounder and stepped on the base to force a runner and completed the throw to first for the double play. First baseman Danyelle Hutchinson fired the ball back to Gardner who applied the tag to MSUB’s Frank, who was trying to advance on the play from first to third. ... MSUB closes out its home schedule this week with games against GNAC-leader Central Washington (Thursday) and Northwest Nazarene (Saturday).