The game was over, but East Chapel Hill’s Katie Agatucci was clearly still thinking about the three doubles she smashed in her team’s win against Cedar Ridge. She smiled wide.
Word to the wise: don’t throw her anything inside. The Red Wolves found that out the hard way.
“I really like inside pitches because you can pull them down the line,” Agatucci said as her eyes lit up, as if she was reliving one of the many times she’s done that over the course of her career. “Oh, that’s great.”
A year ago, Joe Simmons, Agatucci’s coach, called her “irreplaceable” to the Wildcats.
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That sentiment remains true.
Not only one of the Wildcats’ biggest sluggers, she’s also their ace.
Having proven herself as capable of evolving as a pitcher, Agatucci has gone from a one-pitch wonder – she used to rely heavily on her fastball – to someone who can truly puzzle hitters.
“I go to pitching lessons every two weeks; just to try to get the different spins” she said. “A lot of the spin pitches are similar. So it’s hard to decipher how to stand, how to flick, how to finish on each of those different pitches.”
The hard work is paying off. One year removed from an appearance in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs, East Chapel Hill (8-3, 5-1) is having another good season and Agattuci is largely responsible for that.
She has a 1.95 ERA through 46.2 innings pitched and has recorded 53 strikeouts, as opponents are batting just .173 against her.
“She’s added some other pitches to her repertoire,” Simmons said. “Now, I think she’s the complete pitcher and a complete player. That’s one of the reasons she’s had the success she’s had this year and last year.”
At the plate, Agatucci has also dominated. The Wildcat’s leadoff batter, she’s hitting .395 and leads her team with six extra-base hits.
“She’s one of the most aggressive hitters we’ve ever had come through here,” Simmons said. “She’s focused and she’s patient. When she’s dialed in, there’s no getting her out.”