Athlete of the Week: MB’s Ballard bringing heat, hits

mbsoft-ballard (2)It’s not completely accurate to call Emmalee Ballard the pitcher for the Myrtle Beach High softball team. She’s more like a player who also happens to pitch – really, really well.

It’s also a little misleading to use the term “Myrtle Beach High.” Ballard is only an eighth-grader, yet she is already having a tremendous impact for the Lady Seahawks varsity squad.

But it is safe to call Ballard the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for her play at the plate and on the mound for Myrtle Beach.

“I am very appreciated of my teammates,” Ballard said. “Being an eighth-grader and especially the pitcher it is nice to know they back me up and support me.”

Ballard began making an instant impact as a seventh-grader, serving as a backup pitcher and playing virtually every position on the field – shortstop, second base, outfield. Her ability with the bat made it hard to leave her out of the lineup. But this season she is showing her true calling with her arm.

“Emmalee is our starting pitcher, but what makes Emmalee such a great softball player is that she can play any position on the field,” said Myrtle Beach coach Meredith Jiorle. “Emmalee is also counted on with her bat.  At the plate she is batting over .300 and is also a successful bunter.  She always puts the bat on the ball and has only one strikeout on the season.”

But Ballard has rang up plenty of Ks on opposing batters. She 23 strikeouts and a 3.39 ERA while pitching all but three innings for the Lady Seahawks this season.

“Knowing that I am pretty young, I know I have to do my very best for the team,” Ballard said. “Even though I am young, I can handle the pressure as good as anyone else.”

That’s good news for Jiorle, and the Lady Seahawks. “As a program we are very lucky to have Emmalee and excited that she will be in our program for another four years.”

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