Ask Sonoma State senior pitcher Lindsay Emmel what pitches she throws and you are guaranteed to get an answer you’ve never heard before.
Emmel, the CCAA Pitcher of the Year, relies primarily on a rise ball and a mystery pitch.
That’s right. A mystery pitch.
Emmel developed the mystery pitch by accident a few years ago. She was trying to learn how to throw a screwball and, well, the mystery pitch was born.
Emmel estimates that she throws rise balls 75 percent of the time during a game. The rest are mystery pitches.
“I was trying to throw a screw but it turned out to be a combination of a screw and a rise ball,” Emmel said. “It started out like it was going to hit (a right-handed) batter, but it broke away at the end. It kind of wiggles a little bit, but sometimes you don’t know what it’s going to do. My catcher just kind of hopes for the best.”
Said SSU catcher Nicole Cordova, “I’ll set up inside (for the mystery pitch) and ball will go outside and I’ll just be like ‘OK.’ Lindsay will be on the mound saying ‘I don’t know. I don’t know what to say.'”
From the dugout, SSU coach Jaime Wallin says it doesn’t look like the mysery pitch moves. Wallin initially thought the pitch would get hammered. But she eventually realized the mystery pitch moved plenty. The only question was which way it was going to dart the next time Emmel threw it.
“We don’t know what it’s going to do,” Wallin said. “We don’t where its going to go … It’s designed to be a rise ball, but every time she throws it it’s a little bit different. That’s the best I can characterize it.”
The mystery pitch remains a bit of a mystery, even when Emmel or Wallin attempt to explain it.
But I like this description from Emmel the best, “My body is set up like it’s a screwball. My arm is like a rise ball and my release is like a curveball. All of them combined to be kind of a mess-up pitch. But now it kind of works, I guess.”