Pitching the way to first

Strong pitching has been the backbone for the Northern Kentucky softball team this season. The three starting pitchers, Emily Breitholle, Krystal Lewallen and Sarah Newland, have combined for a 0.41 ERA, 272 strikeouts and a 34-2 record.

Krystal Lewallen has made a major contribution to those numbers, going 20-1, with a 0.15 ERA and 176 strikeouts in 137.2 innings pitched. Lewallen has already been named Great Lakes Valley Conference pitcher of the week twice, and has been named Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the week for the week of March 31st.

“That is definitely the biggest award I’ve received since I’ve been here,” said Lewallen, of the national honor. “It feels great to get that recognition.”

Lewallen is on pace to break her own records, set last year, when she finished the season with a 0.82 ERA and 190 strikeouts. She has already surpassed Kim Bina and now holds the all-time strikeout record at NKU, with 343 strikeouts in her career.

Lewallen also ranks fourth on the NKU all-time win list, with 36, which is two behind Lisa Cornett for third place.

Lewallen’s season really started to gain attention after her strong performance against then 14th ranked, Grand Valley State. Lewallen threw a four-hit shutout, striking out 11 as NKU posted a 2-0 win. The win catapulted the Norse into a stretch where they won four games in two days.

“That game against Grand Valley State was probably my strongest of my career (at NKU),” said Lewallen.

Lewallen credits her off-season development of two additional pitches as being key to her improvement over last year’s numbers.

“I’m more in shape this year,” said Lewallen, “and being able to develop two new pitches has really helped me.”

Lewallen, who attended South Oldham high school, also attributes a lot of her success to her father who attends every single Norse game, even though he still resides about 15 minutes outside of Louisville.

“Having him there really helps,” said Lewallen. “He still comes to every game.”

Lewallen also knows that without a good offense, the Lady Norse wouldn’t be seeing near as much success as they are currently having.

“Our lineup is very strong,” said Lewallen, “and we know that whoever is on the mound can do just as good a job as the next person. We are a really good team.”

The Lady Norse have 20 games remaining. They expect to see a conference championship or even more.

“We are a lot more confident this season,” said Lewallen. “We go into each game knowing the other team wants to beat us, it’s like we have a target on our back. But our goal is still to win everything.”