If you look at the statistics leaders for the Mid-American Conference, you’ll see the same person leading in strikeouts, wins and shutouts.
Scali has been awarded the National Pitcher of the Week by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association two times this season. She is sixth in the country in shutouts, 10th in strikeouts per seven innings and 14th in strikeouts.
She is so good that Kent State coach Eric Oakley isn’t surprised after Scali pitches an amazing game.
“Those are the kinds of things we expect from her,” Oakley said after a sweep of Robert Morris University where Scali had 11 strikeouts. “She has been pitching really, really well.”
And she has done it all as a freshman. Technically.
Scali came to Kent State in 2017, ready and excited to play college softball after four successful years at Parma High School, where she was a two-time First Team All-Ohio selection and named a finalist for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission High School Athlete of the Year.
- Missed all of the 2018 season due to an injury
- Set a school record in high school at Parma with 857 strikeouts with a 0.58 ERA while recording a .558 betting average and 158 RBI
- Was Two-time Great Lakes Conference Player of the Year in high school along with being named a Two-time First Team All-Ohio Selection
Two weeks before the season started, the unimaginable happened: Scali tore her ACL and was forced to miss the whole season.
“It was pretty awful,” Scali said. “You’re really excited to start your freshman year, and then it gets ripped away from you in a blink of an eye.”
It was her first major injury, as she made it through four years of high school and competitive softball relatively unscathed.
She spent the season on the sidelines, watching. Scali went to every game and learned from junior pitcher Madi Huck and sat by pitching coach and Kent State softball alumna Emma Johnson.
“We just worked on her mental game,” Johnson said. “You don’t have to throw a ball to work on your mental game. She learned about the game and about college hitters, even though she hadn’t faced them yet. Coming into this February, she had seen it before, and it was just being on the mound and throwing.”
In February, the Flashes traveled down to Texas to face off against Baylor. Scali pitched 11 innings, striking out 14 batters and helping lead Kent State to a series sweep over a top 25 team for the first time in school history.
“I really went out there and did what I knew I could do,” Scali said. “It felt really good to come out after last year and do as well as I have done so far. It’s all for my team, and working together with them, we can do anything.”
The Flashes, led by Scali’s strong pitching, are currently second in the MAC. They have one series remaining against Bowling Green before the start of the MAC tournament.
“I don’t want to sound cocky, but I always knew I could do well,” Scali said. “I don’t think it’s been a surprise for me to do well. I’m a competitor, and it’s felt great so far. If we play softball like we know how, we can beat anybody.”
Gina Butkovich is a sports reporter. Contact her at email@example.com.