SYCAMORE – When Becca Schroeder is behind the plate for the 18U Kishwaukee Valley Storm, she calls her own game.
It’s not a coach giving her the signs from the dugout, as is the case when Schroeder plays for Sycamore.
Even when she’s not catching, Schroeder sits on the bench near home plate. There, she gives signs to the catcher.
Schroeder has caught Kishwaukee Valley pitcher Abby Foulk since the two were playing 12U softball, and has been Foulk’s catcher during high school since the second half of the players’ sophomore season. One of the Storm’s other pitchers, Keri Treml, was a senior for the Spartans this past year.
That familiarity with the pitching staff is just one reason Kishwaukee Valley 18U coach Rick Cartwright trusts Schroeder, who will be a senior in the fall, with his pitching staff as the Storm continue their summer schedule.
“She’s very familiar with how they throw, very in tune with what’s going good, what’s going bad. We talk sometimes about a game situation, and I’ll say ‘we’ve been getting this batter low in, low out,’ and I’ll relay that information,” Cartwright said during Friday’s Storm Dayz tournament at Sycamore Park. “Part of learning the game is learning how to control the game and that’s what Becca does. She calls a good game.”
Having been behind the plate when Foulk’s in the circle for a number of years, Schroeder knows Foulk’s strengths and weaknesses. She’s learned the drop ball is Foulk’s best pitch, and Schroeder understands what pitches to call at what times.
At this point, she has Foulk’s trust.
“She throws a lot better when she can trust her catcher, but also knowing that I know the pitches that work best for her, because I’ve been catching her for a long time,” Schroeder said. “So, I know the ones that work the best.”
It’s not often that Foulk shakes off the catcher with whom she’s gotten so familiar.
“Becca’s my best friend, so I trust her with my life. So I can trust her calling my pitches,” Foulk said. “She has been catching me ever since I first started pitching. She’s been there from the time I learned to pitch to the time I mastered a pitch. So, she knows how my pitches move.”
Foulk said Schroeder likes to call for off-speed pitches, because she realizes when hitters are out in front of or behind the ball. One thing Schroeder has picked up over the years is the velocity on Foulk’s riseball, which is harder than her fastball, something Foulk can’t figure out.
The two teammates also have confidence in each other. Foulk is confident Schroeder will put down the correct fingers, while the catcher is confident her pitcher will make the right pitch.
“Obviously, if she has confidence in me, I should have confidence in myself to be able to do it,” Foulk said. “I very rarely shake her off. She calls a good game.”