Greenfield's Bella Matthias put up incredible numbers in 2014 season
Sophomore standout on All-Suburban squad
"Outstanding" does not go far enough in describing the kind of pitching numbers that Greenfield's Bella Matthias was able to post this season.
"Incredible" or "spectacular" might come closer.
Let's just say that Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers or Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals would be proud of her statistics.
How about 354 strikeouts in 176 innings, for starters? Or 18 games where she held the opponent to three hits or less, including a trio of no-hitters?
Add an almost 9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a miniscule earned-run average of 1.27, and it is clear that Matthias enjoyed a truly dominant season for the Hustlin' Hawks in softball.
Record is misleading
Her record was 18-9, but that is far from a true indication of what she did for Greenfield.
"Her stats are phenomenal but don't really tell the whole story," said Greenfield head coach Jack Miller. "We were a very average hitting team and a below-average fielding team, and that kept Bella's record from being almost spotless."
Miller estimated the Hawks had four or five games this season in which they owned a lead in the final innings or in extra frames but lost it due to defensive miscues. That includes seeing a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning disappear in a WIAA Division 1 sectional loss to top seed Racine Case.
All those other overpowering statistics, though, make Matthias a clear choice for the 2014 NOW Newspapers All-Suburban Team.
She was also the Woodland Conference East Division Player of the Year, despite the Hawks' third-place finish in the division, as well as first-team all-district and honorable-mention all-state.
Matthias had a simple explanation for all that success.
"I just worked hard in the off-season," she said. "I went to some lessons and worked on my location. I attended camps and pitching showcases."
Likes the curveball
She is developing a nice repertoire of pitches.
"I can throw the fastball, changeup and rise ball, but the curveball is really my out pitch," she said.
She started playing softball seven years ago in Greenfield's youth programs and has been the varsity starter for both of her high school seasons.
"I started the game, and I really liked it and just kept going with it," Matthias said. "I was able to get the feel for the game, and it kept me going."
One of the many impressive facts about her season was that she did not rack up those numbers against poor teams; she pitched well against some of the best opponents the area had to offer.
Matthias split two games against rival Whitnall, which shared the best record in the Woodland this season, by scores of 2-0 (victory) and 1-0 (loss). In the two games, she allowed a total of four hits and struck out 33 hitters, including a season-high 19 in the loss.
She also fanned 16 against WIAA Division 1 state qualifier Germantown; 15 against Division 2 state qualifier New Berlin Eisenhower and Pius XI; and 14 against Oak Creek, Kenosha Tremper and Classic 8 Conference champion Muskego.
Matthias also fanned 28 in two games against South Milwaukee in a pair of extra-inning losses.
Stopped top hitters
Miller figured out that against seven of the top hitters in the area, such as fellow All-Suburban honorees Liz Thon of Whitnall and Kayla Schlegel of Eisenhower, Matthias allowed a .129 batting average and struck out 20.
On top of everything, Matthias was also a strong hitter herself, batting .389 with 24 runs batted in and 24 scored.
She will be back with the Hawks for two more seasons, and Miller is hoping for more offensive and defensive support so her won-loss record can be brought up to the level of her other statistics.
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