Standley closes her playing career in memorable fashion
by Andrew Stark
This spring, for the first time in a while, the Independence High School softball team entered a season with heightened expectations.
After struggling in previous campaigns, the Patriots were coming off a season in which they posted a 17-6 record, reached the third round of the state playoffs and had most of their key players returning.
The Patriots actually managed to exceed the hype the 2011 season generated, as they won the Southwestern 4A conference regular-season title, earned a No.1 seed in the state playoffs, finished with a 19-4 record and produced the league’s player of the year.
“This year was different,” said Independence senior pitcher Erin Standley, who won the Southwestern 4A’s top individual honor.
“People thought last year we happened to do well. Coming into this year, I think people thought we would be decent but not great. We weren’t expected to win the conference, for sure.”
First-year Patriots coach Ken Orsillo said he wanted Standley to pitch a lot, but he also needed to get other players experience. As it turned out, Standley started every game on the mound for the Patriots, going 19-4 with 17 complete games and six shutouts.
“(Pitching so much) was definitely my idea,” she said. “Coming from Butler (before the 2011 season), I had to earn my spot during my freshman year. It has always been my mentality to earn my spot and play the whole time. I wanted to start every game.”
When she wasn’t pitching, Standley was equally dominating at the plate and led the Patriots with a .500 batting average and also topped the team in hits (39), triples (three), runs scored (30) and stolen bases (18).
For her dual-threat capabilities and all-around great season, Standley is Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s 2012 Southern Mecklenburg Softball Player of the Year.
“It means a lot to me,” she said of the award. “To be able to close out my career with a high award is something very special.”
Standley said her best attribute on the mound is being able to stay calm in any situation, a trait that made a tough decision this fall easier for her. Although possessing the talent to play softball in college, and despite taking a recruiting trip to Anderson (S.C.) University, Standley ultimately decided not to play at the next level. Instead, Standley, who recently graduated from Independence with a 4.3 GPA, will focus on academics at Western Carolina University, where she’ll be joined by teammate Katie Pearsall.
“Katie and I have played together since we were seven, and finishing our careers together was probably my best memory,” Standley said. “Not playing softball anymore is bittersweet, but it was the right decision for me.”
Her softball career, and especially her senior season, will always be a fond memory, but Standley believes she made the right decision to hang up her spikes.
“My goal coming into the year was to come out and do the best that I could.” Standley said. “I wanted to close out my career the right way.”