It may be the way a pitcher fidgets with the ball in her glove.
It may be the way a pitcher begins her windup, or where she steps in the circle as she delivers the ball to the plate.
Whatever it may be, Amber Meyers has studied her opponent, and made her mental notes. And sometimes, Meyers said, she can tell what pitch is coming before it even leaves the pitcher’s hand. If a pitcher has a tell, Meyers will figure it out.
“With a lot of the pitchers, I’ve played with them since ASA when we were 10 years old,” said Meyers, Billings Skyview’s center fielder. “I know a lot of their routines and what pitches they throw first. You just have to know how they approach it. And a lot of pitchers know what I don’t like and what I like, and I have to be watching for everything.
“You have to watch in the dugout what (other hitters) are getting, and what the pitchers are not throwing and what they are throwing. I just watch the pitchers, just the way they’re winding up or by the way they’re positioning the ball in their mitt. It feels like a sixth sense.”
Hitting does appear to be as innate as any of the other five senses to Meyers.
Her first varsity season, Meyers was slotted into the Falcons’ leadoff spot and the then-sophomore batted .358 in 98 at-bats. Last year, coach Michael Falcon moved Meyers to the No. 3 hole, and she hit .355. Still batting third this season, Meyers is at a blistering .551 through the Falcons’ first 12 games, getting 27 hits in 49 at-bats.
She’s struck out just twice and has homered five times, driving in 23 runs. She has a good chance at breaking Amanda Todd’s Skyview single-season RBI record of 34. Not that that matters to Meyers.
“As long as we’re winning the games and I’m helping the team, that’s the important thing,” she said. “Winning’s the best thing.”
The best thing about Meyers? That’s easy, said Falcon, who took over as Skyview’s head coach the same season Meyers broke into the lineup.
“Every single at-bat has been consistent, where she’s putting the ball in play hard,” he said. “Her strikeouts have gone down every year. She doesn’t give any at-bats away. She takes pride in her approach and pride in what she does at the plate every single time up.”
That pride may be costing Meyers, a three-sport athlete at Skyview, a shot at a collegiate career. Meyers made the varsity basketball team as a freshman, and early in the season she separated her right shoulder — which is her throwing shoulder for softball and hitting shoulder for volleyball — diving for a loose ball with a Great Falls High defender.
The pain lingered, but rather than letting on how much her shoulder ached, Meyers played on, through more basketball, volleyball and softball. She played on for the next couple years, until finally the pain was too much and she went in for surgery last summer. Turns out the initial separation eventually became a torn labrum and a torn rotator cuff, as well as a damaged shoulder capsule.
“I just lived with the pain,” she said. “I didn’t want to let my team down. I wanted to be there with them.”
The surgery cost Meyers her senior volleyball season, and she figures she’s at 70 percent now. She thought the surgery might help her continue her athletic career into college, which she says has always been a dream of hers, but now she says this season will likely be her last. She said her shoulder probably can’t take another four years of athletics, and she can feel her career quickly winding down.
Each game matters that much more.
“It’s kind of sad, just thinking about all the years I’ve played,” said Meyers, a four-year letterwinner in basketball, a three-year letterwinner in softball and a two-year letterwinner in volleyball. “This is it, this is the last season. You just try to take it with you and have no regrets. I definitely have no regrets.”
So if she could go back to that night on the basketball court, knowing what she knows now, would she pull up and not dive, letting her Great Falls opponent take possession of the basketball?
“No,” she replied, without even giving the scenario a second thought. “I still would have gone for it. I wouldn’t change anything.”