Pack Softball's Weiman Shoulders Pitching Load
March 13, 2013
Thursday, March 14
FULLERTON, Calif. - NC State righthanded pitcher Emily Weiman carried a heavy load in her freshman season with the Wolfpack, appearing in more than 208 innings in 38 games and sharing the primary pitching duties with senior Morgan Peeler.
By the end of the 2012 season, Weiman had emerged as the team's most consistent thrower and she led the squad in innings pitched, strikeouts and earned run average. But her debut season was not without a few bumps and bruises.
Now, as a sophomore, Weiman (10-7) has emerged as a better pitcher, a significant threat who will charge into the circle this weekend as the Wolfpack heads to the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.
The Pack (11-8-1 overall, 0-3 ACC) will play five games in three days, beginning with Thursday's 9:30 p.m. contest against DePaul on Field 2 of the Titan Softball Complex. On Friday, the Pack will face top-ranked Oklahoma at 3:30 p.m. and Pacific at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, the Pack will face a pair of ranked opponents, No. 10/9 Michigan at 1 p.m. and No. 15/14 Texas at 6 p.m. on Saturday
So far this season, State has played four contests against ranked teams, splitting with No. 12 South Florida at the USF 4-Team Tournament and losing a pair of games to No. 4 Tennessee.
For Weiman, this is the kind of weekend she began preparing for last June, when she made the commitment to become a better pitcher, not just a hard thrower. Weiman knew that if she wanted more success as a sophomore, she needed to work harder during the off-season to get more fit and to refine her pitching acumen.
"I pretty much made the decision not to let things that could hurt me happen any more," Weiman said. "My freshman year was such a learning experience. I took a lot away from that, to know what I can and can't do to be competitive in college softball. I was working hard to get into shape. I was working hard on pitching. It started with endurance pitching and being in shape."
So even before first-year coach Shawn Rychcik and his staff were hired to lead the program, the Pasadena, Md., native planned to enroll in both sessions of summer school at NC State. She knew she would miss seeing the Orioles play in person and keeping a close eye on training camp news from her beloved Ravens, but she was eager to be in Raleigh working out with roommate and batterymate Kirsty Grant. The pitcher and catcher tandem spent all of their free time working out with strength and conditioning coach Wright Wayne.
"Kirsty is a workaholic and she pushed me every day," Weiman said. "She kept me motivated and working hard."
By the time Rychcik hired former Hofstra standout Courtney Oliver as his pitching coach, both Weiman and Grant were ready to be molded into a dangerous combination. They knew that as the team's only experienced pitcher, she would have to carry a heavy workload. And they knew, based on her summer workout regimen, that she could handle it.
She has started 18 of the Pack's 20 games this season, and has a 1.95 ERA along with 95 strikeouts and just 25 walks in her ACC-leading 108 1/3 innings of work. She ranks second in the conference in wins and third in strikeouts.
"She's being rewarded for her hard work right now," Rychcik said. "Hopefully, it will set the standard here that this is how we do things and this is what we expect. She's been asked to do a lot, but she's been ready for it.
"It's one thing when you ask someone to throw a lot when she is not in shape. But Em is ready for it. She prepared herself for it back in June."
Weiman credits Grant for her strong start to the season and the Wolfpack defense behind her for a newfound confidence. She knows she can get more groundouts with her prized drop ball and that she doesn't have to strike out every batter she faces. She can be more creative in the circle and make more adjustments.
More than anything, however, Weiman has matured in the circle. She faced a solid Kansas team in three games during two different tournaments and got better each time out. In the rubber game, the de facto championship of the Wolfpack Classic, she continually pitched out of bases-loaded jams and took a 5-2 victory.
Even last weekend, when the Wolfpack lost a trio of games to Florida State, Weiman got better, losing Sunday's finale 2-0 in an exceptional pitcher's duel. She struck out eight Seminole batters and gave up just a pair of solo runs in two innings in the 2-0 loss.
She has no hesitation about pitching against some of the top teams in the nation this weekend in California, no matter how many innings she throws.
"I feel like I am prepared," Weiman said. "I feel like my coaches, Wright and our training staff have kept me in the proper shape to go out there for all of those innings. It's not easy, but I am prepared to do it and I like doing it."