By Vern Hee
How fast can Whitney Roderick, ace Trojans softball player pitch? I had many years of baseball experience growing up. It really was the only game I played.
As a reporter, I seldom like to enter a story, but I did so here to see how good Roderick really was.
So, I took off my coat, put on a catcher’s mitt and warmed up the pitcher.
I love baseball and played the game most of my childhood. It has been several years since I stepped onto a baseball field 2007 , mainly because I am well over 40. I have had a problem with getting hurt every time I did play.
Just her overhand throws were fast as we played catch before she started pitching. Her first throw I missed, and it clipped my shoulder.
Then, the real test came. I went into the catcher’s position and I took five pitches from the ace.
As I got down into the crouch position, it dawned on me that I was not wearing any protective gear. No cup, no padding and no face mask. I was thinking to myself that I had over-estimated my baseball skills, after all it has been some years since I had caught behind the plate.
I think the last time I did this was in high school — over 30 years back.
The whiz of the ball brought me back to reality.
Roderick throws low and fast. The first one came in around 40 mph, which is far below her ability. She said she “didn’t want to hurt me.” It hit me square in the glove and stung.
The next two pitches I lost track of in the air and could not catch them. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust I said to myself. Right?
At that point, I told myself my old eyes better adjust quickly or this experiment would result with me having to extract the ball from my face at the hospital.
On the last pitch, I told her to give me the real thing. “Give me the heat,” I said. She looked at me as if I were crazy.
I guess I will never really know if she gave me the heat, but my poor hand was throbbing for a good 15 minutes to a half hour after the last pitch I caught.
After my five pitches, I asked the catcher of the team, Audrey MacRae, how she caught this gal every day.
“Your hands get used to it. I have this thing with my finger. The nerves were starting to get damaged in my hand. I have had to put a sleeve on my finger and I had several treatments from the doctor. When she is doing well it flies,” said MacRae.
My left hand will always remember the day I caught Whitney Roderick, especially since I can no longer move it.