Horne blows out batters

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tough competition seems to bring out the best in pitcher EmilyHorne and the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Lady Wolves. Theyhope to continue their winning ways in the NJCAA Division IIFastpitch Softball Tournament in Normal, Ill., this week.

Horne went undefeated in six playoff games. The hard-throwingsophomore from Pearland, Texas, has been a key to success inCo-Lin’s greatest season.

Horne has fashioned a 19-3 record and a stingy 0.62 ERA. She hasan arsenal of pitches, including a fastball, curveball, changeupand rise ball. In 146 innings, she has recorded 181 strikeouts, 24walks and allowed 78 hits.

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“Emily hasn’t been 100 percent healthy very much this year,”Co-Lin head coach Allen Kent pointed out. “To see what she hasaccomplished with all her nagging injuries, is a testament to herathletic abilities.”

Horne was unable to throw her rise ball during the regionaltournament due to an abdominal injury sustained in the statetournament championship game against Northeast. The incidenthappened after Horne had bunted for a base hit and collided atfirst base with the second baseman who was covering the bag.

Horne sustained an abdominal pull and some bruising. Sheremained on the mound and completed the game.

Besides an early season bout with a nagging pulled hamstring inher right leg, Horne developed some tendinitis in her right wristwhich arrived before the Easter weekend. Kent said he admires hertoughness and tenacity.

Asked about her development as a pitcher at Co-Lin, Horne saidshe has become stronger and more mature. “I’ve improved over thelast two years. Co-Lin has really helped me to stay calm on themound when things aren’t going my way. I try to pick up everybodywhen we are not having a good game.”

Horne, an elementary school major, has signed with Arkansas TechUniversity, located in Russellville. She said sophomore MeganBateman and freshman Lauren Smith have both done exceptionally wellas her catchers.

“Both of my catchers are great,” said Horne. “Even if one of usaren’t on the same page, we know how to communicate, how to calland what to throw.”

Backing up Horne on the mound are sophomore Jackie Stowe (2-0)of Hazlehurst (Copiah Academy) and freshman Erin Douglass (13-4) ofKady, Texas. They have a combined 1.40 ERA.

Smith, a freshman from Brookhaven (West Lincoln) said she wasawed by Horne’s pitching skills last fall during practice. It was amajor adjustment from high school to the college level.

“I love to catch Emily,” said Smith. “She’s a great pitcher. Thevery first game I caught her, I was scared to death. I wasafraid.”

Smith said Horne’s exceptional skills aren’t realized by theaverage fan who sits in the bleachers and watches the game. “Nobodycan tell how good a pitcher Emily is, until you catch her. She’sthe best pitcher all around.”

According to Smith, batting practice against live pitching hashelped Co-Lin improve its offensive skills. “We always tellourselves in practice, ‘If we can hit off Emily, we can hit offanybody.'”

Lady Wolves Start Slow

Co-Lin’s season got off to a rocky start. The Lady Wolves lostsix games early in the campaign. They now have won 25 of their last26 games.

Horne, 1 of 5 sophomores on the 15-member squad, had high hopesfor a successful campaign but it started slowly in February. Theylost 6 games early in the season.

It was crunch time, so Horne and her sophomore teammates huddledwith the 10 freshmen and had a heart-to-heart talk. “We sat themdown and talked to them. We told them it’s a lot different thanhigh school. You have to pay attention and learn from what thecoaches say. You learn from it every game.”

Obviously, Co-Lin began showing steady improvement. “The teamhas really come together and responded well,” said Horne. “It’sbeen really good.”

Horne has been good for Co-Lin, too.