Morgan Lashley came out again this year to prove people wrong.
After sharing the mound for North Mecklenburg the past few seasons, the senior's main focus is to show to her opponents that the lack of velocity on her pitches doesn't take anything away from her game.
"You don't always have to throw hard to win," she said.
Lashley proved that last season, going 12-3 from the mound, where she threw 119 strikeouts and had a 1.44 ERA on the year.
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What Lashley lacks in speed, she makes up with the movement on her pitches.
"She's almost unhittable when she's really on," said North Meck softball coach Paul Kikta. "When she's at the top of her game, she's definitely hard to beat."
This year, Lashley's movement has gotten noticeably better.
"I don't know what I did during the winter, but I must have worked on something really well because (my pitches) have been moving like crazy," she said.
Lashley's rise ball has been so efficient that she said it has even fooled batters trying to bunt.
"It's amazing," she said. "I can just see (catcher Sarah Mooney)'s face when she's catching it - she's just like 'I'm just glad I'm on your team.'"
Lashley credits the chemistry she has with Mooney, her best friend and an All-American catcher, with a lot of her success.
"Since we're so connected, she knows what I'm thinking during a game, so I don't have to stand at the mound delaying the game," said Lashley. "She pretty much just puts a number down and I think, 'Yeah, let's do it.' I feel very confident in what she calls."
She said Mooney also has the ability to calm her down, admitting she can easily get frustrated when things aren't going as expected.
The duo, both Viking captains, are also important in providing the team leadership.
Lashley said that she likes to encourage her team, but gets too focused when pitching to do so. That's where Mooney comes in.
"She's very loud - her voice just travels - so she does a great job of talking to everyone on the field," she said.
Even though Lashley's a friendly and talkative person off the field, she's quiet and determined on the mound, intent on winning and refusing to put up with any foolery from her teammates.
"I'll do anything, anything to win," said the 18-year-old. "People say 'oh, we just want to have fun,' but to me winning is the ultimate fun."
Kikta said that mentality isn't hard to detect in Lashley.
"She's probably the most competitive girl we have," he said. "She never wants to lose at anything, whether it's some drill we do in practice or a game."
Lashley is much more than a pitcher, being able to play any position the Vikings need her to.
After playing right field when not pitching last season, Lashley is mainly playing third base when Mooney's on the mound, although she's also seen time behind the plate.
Having a versatile player who can fill in holes is a big boost for the team.
"If you have that, you can be in every game," said Kikta.
Last season, Lashley also had a breakout season at the plate, batting a .382 and recording 11 RBIs.
"I feel like I really stepped up in our batting order. I started the year off at seven or eight and by the end of the year I was lead-off batter," she said. "I felt really confident. I was just stroking the ball."
But Lashley has started the year off a bit slow at the plate.
Lashley hasn't been striking out much, with her struggles mostly coming from putting the ball in play to fielders. But she's not to concerned about her struggles.
"I'll get it back," she said. "I'm just in a slump."
After North Meck started the year off unranked, Lashley was motivated to prove that her team could contend for an I-Meck title.
"People thought we were going to be fourth in the conference, but I think we could split the series with Lake Norman and split first place with them," she said.
After starting the year 9-2 (4-1), losing its only conference game to the Wildcats and now ranked 10th in the state, Kikta said the team is right where it should be at this stage of the season.
"We have our positive moments and then we also make mistakes we're going to make," said Kikta.
With a core group of experienced players, Kikta has been impressed with his team's perseverance.
"That's one thing about our team, they never give up and fight to the finish," he said.
When the season comes to an end, Lashley will prepare to head to the U.S. Military Academy, where she plans to become a helicopter pilot and continue her softball career.
"I get a little nervous sometimes because of everything that comes along with going to Army," said Lashley.
Again, she hopes to prove the people who think she's not cut out for West Point because of her carefree attitude wrong.
"It'll be good for me. I probably need this life change."