The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

May 1, 2014

Leitka's arm key for Lady Jets

ENID, Okla. — Summer Leitka is ready to be the iron woman for the Northern Oklahoma College Enid softball team going into regional tournament play today at Coweta High School.

Leitka went from co-ace to the ace when fellow pitcher Kendra Coleman was dismissed from the team a few weeks ago.

Leitka will be on the mound when the 36-17 Lady Jets face No. 5 seed Eastern Oklahoma (20-27) in a first-round game at 10 a.m. How far NOC Enid goes will depend on how far Leitka’s right arm will take them.

“Coach (Jamie Roberts) told me I have to prepare myself for all of those games,’’ said Leitka, who had a 23-6 record with a 1.79 ERA and 204 strikeouts in 168 innings.

Leitka, who says she is more of a “ball movement girl’’ than power pitcher, has had to change her mental and physical approach in the last few weeks.

“It’s a big-time difference,’’ she said. “Usually I go all out the first game. Now, I have to pace myself so my arm doesn’t go out on me. By the end of the second game, my forearm is usually pretty sore.’’

Roberts is confident Leitka is up to the task.

“She’s pretty savvy,’’ Roberts said. “She’s a competitor and likes to win, She has been consistent for us and, fortunately, she hasn’t suffered any injuries.’’

Selika Shives (2-3, 4.32) also might throw a few innings. Shives had been bothered by back problems but is doing better.

“But we think Summer is fresh,’’ Roberts said. “She’s thrown 29 games, and has a 23-6 record, that’s pretty good.’’

Leitka comes into the playoffs relaxed at least.

“I don’t really feel any pressure,’’ she said. “I just try to take it as just another game. A pitcher always has to be mentally tough.’’

Ironically, NOC Enid and Eastern were the only schools to recruit Leitka out of Norman High School last spring.

“I had an opportunity to play, so I went for it,’’ Leitka said. “I came in not knowing how good the team would be. We ended up having some pretty good hitters (.316 team batting average).’’

She said set no goals, other than “just win.’’

“I just wanted to make it through the program,’’ Leitka said. “The college level is totally different from high school.’’

Leitka has the distinction of being the winning pitcher in NOC Enid’s first-ever game (8-0 over Frank Phillips). She’s thrown five shutouts.

“I’ve always been a strikeout pitcher, but I don’t really have a fastball,’’ she said. “I get a lot of spin on the ball, which is good for striking out people.’’

She practically was born to be a pitcher. Both her grandfather Richmond and her father Sonny were pitchers and also were her coaches growing up.

“That was a big help,’’ Leitka said. “I’m just doing my thing out there. It’s the only thing I know how to do, and the only thing that I’m good at.’’

The Lady Jets and Eastern were 2-2 against each other.

They split doubleheaders both in Enid (10-2, Lady Jets and 12-2 Eastern) and in Wilburton (2-1, Eastern and 6-1 NOC Enid).

The winner faces the winner of the 2 p.m. game between No. 1 seed Seminole and No. 8 seed NOC Tonkawa at noon Saturday. The losers play an elimination game at 6 tonight.

The finals of the double-elimination tournament are set for 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Region 2 champion hosts the Region 23 champion in the district tournament with the winner advancing to the Division I Women’s World Series.

“We have the talent to win it,’’ Roberts said. “It’s just a matter of want to. You can’t want it for them. We’re pretty young, but hopefully we can perform under pressure. These girls have come from winning programs and are used to winning championships.’’

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