Softball’s Amy Letourneau Emerging as Elite Talent
WNUR Sports staffer Lynden Ostrander takes a look at Northwestern Wildcats softball players Amy Letourneau and the success she has found in the circle and at the plate during her sophomore season.Wildcat Sophomore Amy Letourneau has raised her talents to new heights on the softball diamond. During the past two weeks, Letourneau has tossed two no-nos, and became the 45th and 46th member of that elite club at Northwestern. Must be that “Cali Swagger.”
Letourneau, a So-Cal product out of Santa Margarita Catholic High School, talked about her progression from last year.
“Individually my confidence is really high, that was one of the main things I focused on changing from last year, knowing I’m the best player and I believe I am on that mound, you have to have that kind of confidence in yourself to succeed in this game.”
But Letourneau is extremely modest and a team player, adding, “Having the defense behind me really gives me that added confidence I need when I’m pitching.”
After being an All-Big Ten second team selection last year as a true freshman, Letourneau has elevated both aspects of her game this year, as all her numbers have vastly improved since last year.
This year Letourneau is going on an absolute tear on both sides of the plate in Big-Ten conference play. Batting .448, with 5 dingers, 13 RBI’s, and a whopping 1.034 slugging percentage, and an astounding .579 on base percentage.
From the circle, she has a solid 3.11 era, and is near unbeatable with a 5-2 mark, and Big Ten batters might as well turn around and head back to the dugout with her on the mound, with a miniscule opposing batting average of .169.
It’s not everyday on Division-I Women’s College Softball that your pitcher can have 2 no hitters on the year, and bat for .448, have an on base percentage over .500 and lead your team in slugging percentage, RBI’S and home runs in conference play, a dual threat athlete to say the least.
“To be a threat on both sides of the ball at the level she is pretty special. She’s going to keep having crazy numbers on both sides of the ball, and every team doesn’t have a player like that, which is pretty significant to me,” said assistant coach Courtnay Foster.
Foster explained the difference this year in Letourneau’s pitching game, “This year she really has control of the game, her mental game is better, and knows how to control the momentum of the game. It’s all about experience, now she understands situations better, knows each batter’s tendencies, her maturity and experience has come a long way and she has shown tremendous strides in her game.”
This year’s pitching numbers sure show the improvement as she’s not only improved, but has displayed sheer dominance.
Letourneau is sixth in the conference in ERA and leads the Big Ten in opponent batting average. Amy’s devastating drop pitch has been dropping batters like flies this year, as she’s second in the Big Ten in batters struck out, batters struck out looking, and hits allowed. This year her stuff is straight nasty.
Letourneau discussed the key difference Coach Foster helped implement into her game. “Courtnay really helped me learn more about my movement and how to set batters up. Now I call my own pitches and already know what I’m going to throw before I get the sign. I believe in the ability of my movement and I know I’m going to strike them out.”
Foster talked about the unique qualities of Letourneau’s game, “Amy is a relentless competitor. She never wants to throw it down the middle and that’s something I admire about her. She’s one of the smartest kids on our team, she has that drive to succeed.”
But don’t let that athlete mantra fool you. To Letourneau, academics come first. “In the initial process of choosing where to go to school, academics were the most important thing to me. I pride myself on how hard we work academically here. It’s great that our coaches put emphasis on school. School comes first to me before anything.”
Foster delved into what separates Letourneau from other players, and why she should be considered with the elite players in the country.
“Amy absolutely should be mentioned in the same breath as the top players in the country, the movement she’s able to create in the strike zone I think is second to none. When she executes her best pitches she’s unhittable. She’s always hungry to get better and has her eye on the prize.”
To Letourneau it’s all about the team. “I love my teammates and the relationship I have with them and my coaches and love that I get to spend so much time with all of them.”
Letourneau discussed the team’s goals and the difference with this team compared to last year.
“I expect our team to go really far. We all talk about it. We want to win the Big Ten Championship and go to the College World Series. That’s our goal and I think we can do it. We want to go every year. I think this year in the Big Ten we’ve decided we’re going to win and we realize anything can happen. We can be behind and have confidence we can win. Before we’d get behind and be like, ‘Oh, no, we’re going to lose.’ Now, it’s just, ‘We’re going to win.’ We’ve worked on changing that this year.”
After the interview Letourneau indicated the team has one day off a week but admitted, “On that Monday we have off, I want to be out there practicing. I don’t want to take a day off.”
Because that’s the essence of what Amy Letourneau is: a go-getter.