Pitching trio leading the way

No player can be fully replaced. Those who come after are bound to play with their own style.
The Warhawks could not replace All-American pitcher Jessica Stang with just one pitcher, but instead, rebuilt their rotation with three new pitchers: Katie Boyle, Amy Christopher and Bekka Houda.
“We had a great team last year, but I honestly think we have a better team this year,” Boyle said. “We’re younger, but we’re so multi-faceted and really work well with each other.”
Growing up, the three girls had similar dreams about becoming pitchers.
Boyle, who is a junior, grew up in Glendale and would always play softball with her sister and father, who was their catcher. It was a friendly rivalry, but that was where it all began for Boyle.
“I had this bigger guy yelling at us what to do, and if I wouldn’t have done that I probably wouldn’t have been as successful as I am,” Boyle said.
Boyle was a three-sport athlete at Saint Thomas Moore High School in Milwaukee. She walked on at UW-Whitewater after tearing her ACL in high school, but eventually healed and returned to form to pitch some innings as a freshman.
“I made some key starts, made some key mistakes, but I also learned a lot of things,” Boyle said.
In 14 starts this year, Boyle is 11-3 with 50 strikeouts and a 2.19 ERA in 89.2 innings of work.
Christopher, who is also a junior, transferred to UW-Whitewater from Louis University. Born and raised in Colorado, she started her pitching career with the encouragement of her dad and a pitching coach. Christopher started out as a first baseman but then became a pitcher with help from a coach in California, and she said she loves the position.
“You have control of the speed of everything,” Christopher said.
Christopher uses drop balls and curveballs, or whatever pitch can strike out her opponents. This year she has a 6-1 record and a 2.76 ERA with two shutouts in seven starts.
Houda, a freshman on the team, grew up in Lisle, Ill. She got her start at 8 or 9 years old when a pitching coach said she wanted Houda to be one of her pitching students. It started when Houda attended an all-around camp that helped improve her game.
“I thought I was in trouble,” Houda said. “She was like ‘I want to talk to your parents after this camp,’ but it wound up being she wanted me to be one of her pitching students.”
Houda is 9-2 in 11 starts this season. She has 68 strikeouts and 2.65 ERA in 84.2 innings. Houda’s eight relief appearances are also the most of the pitching staff which goes along with three saves.
All three agreed they love the control aspect of pitching. Boyle, Christopher and Houda are the leaders of the team and have two years to win a championship together.
“This team has a lot of heart,” Houda said. “I think people are always giving 110 percent. Even when people don’t feel good or somebody gets hurt we have to be like ‘no you should probably sit so you don’t get hurt.’”
Struggles aren’t something a team can completely avoid during a long season, but having strong fielders who are willing to dive for every ball and a rotation that can keep hitters off-balance is key, Boyle said.
On and off the field the girls are friends, which helps them play more relaxed.
“We have hilarious conversations in the bullpen, but we know when to buckle down,” Boyle said. “The three of us are pretty good friends too, so we can talk about anything and relax and have a good time.”
The Warhawks are 26-6 and 9-1 in conference. With continued strong performances, Boyle says the ’Hawks will look to host Regionals and be a contender for the national championship.
“The only team that beats us is ourself,” Boyle said.