As of April4, when California Baptist University softball won a double-header against Biola University, the Lancers boasted a 26-5 overall record, an 18-2 record against PacWest Conference opponents, earned a No. 24 national ranking and held the top spot in the PacWest conference standings.
The Lancers owe this success, at least in part, to the dynamic pitching duo of Ciara Stapp, sophomore communication studies major, and Kellye Springstead, junior criminal justice major. As a team, CBU’s earned run average ranks fourth in Division II softball and the Lancers are third in shutouts.
“(Stapp and Springstead) have a strong mentality when they get in the circle and are very focused on getting the job done,” said Bill Baber, head coach of softball. “Both are very big competitors when they are given the ball to pitch.”
Both pitchers said a key ingredient to success is striking a balance between competition and encouragement.
“In the bullpen and in practice, we always have a good time. But at the same time, it’s always good competition,” Springstead said. “Whoever has the ball that day, our mindset is you go and get it and get the job done for the team.”
Stapp has high praise for Springstead and called her the hardest working person she has ever met.
“Every time she’s out there, she just makes everybody around her want to do that much better,” Stapp said. “Because she’s at this level and everybody wants to get to that level.”
Springstead returned the compliment and said Stapp is a “go-getter.”
“When something is not going right, she always goes in there and takes the time to fix it and she always goes all out.”
One of the major differences between pitching in baseball and pitching in softball is the staff size. This year, Lancer baseball has given the ball to six different starters stepping up to the mound.
Lancer softball has only seen three different starting pitchers, with Stapp and Springstead starting all but four games.
“It’s a great advantage when you play double headers — having two pitchers that are both No. 1,” Baber said. “We can switch them depending on who we are playing for a better matchup.”
Being part of a smaller rotation means more time in the circle for Stapp and Springstead.
The two have combined to rack up 20 complete games in 179 innings pitched. Together, they have struck out 151 batters. Despite the extended workload, neither pitcher would have it any other way.
“You definitely have to have more endurance, I would say, and we work a lot on that in the fall,” Stapp said. “Just being able to stay strong the entire game, that’s different (from baseball).”
Stapp and Springstead both made a point of giving credit to the defense behind them.
“When you know that your defense can get almost every ball behind you even if it’s hit, you can just go up to the mound and just kill it,” Stapp said.
The Lancers will need both pitchers to continue to “kill it” as they venture deeper into PacWest play. The Lancers will be at home with a double-header against Notre Dame de Namur University, April 11.