Through the years, Bunn’s softball program has had a few ninth-grade pitchers and catchers who have worked their way into the starting lineup – but never at the same time.
Those two positions are considered the most important on the diamond, and experience is usually preferred, especially in a Bunn program that is used to making deep playoff runs, including a pair of Final Four appearances since 1996.
But pitcher Caroline White and catcher Liz Parrish hardly act like apprehensive freshmen when they go about their business on the field.
Bunn coach Melanie Lovin wasn’t sure what she would be working with this spring after the graduations of longtime stars Erica Davis at pitcher and Charlotte Murphy at catcher.
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It didn’t take long for Lovin to realize that a youth movement was in order, and the results have been exceptional as White is 14-1 for the 14-1 Wildcats. Parrish is batting cleanup in Bunn’s lineup and is also showing an uncanny savvy behind the plate.
“These girls are very game-smart,” Lovin said. “They know what they are doing out there.”
During an early-season game, an opposing coach approached Bunn assistant Morgan Pearce and asked her where the Wildcats’ talented, veteran-looking new pitcher had moved in from.
“Our middle school,” was Pearce’s response as she bit her lip, trying not to laugh at the question.
Part of the duo’s instant success comes from the fact that they have worked as a battery going all the way back to their rec league days. Parrish knows the ins and outs of White’s pitching style, and White knows that Parrish will help her work through difficult situations.
“We have always worked well together, and I think that is why we are doing well now,” Parrish said. “I’m satisfied with what we have done, but I also know we can continue to get better. You can always do better.”
Said White: “I’ve been (pitching to Parrish) since I was 6 years old. I’m not sure who else I would want to pitch to.”
White has been a prodigy of sorts in the Bunn community as her mother and two aunts were all standout athletes for the Wildcats. White grew up with the goal of one day being able to continue the family tradition.
“I think that (White’s family background) will help her in the long run,” Lovin said. “She has that dedication to our team and this school. She wants to wear that green jersey.”