Warrenton southpaw Kylie Witthaus’ production on the mound and at the plate have helped Warrenton to another winning season and district title.
A junior, Witthaus has served as the team’s main pitcher after splitting time her first two seasons with Kathryn McChristy.
Witthaus threw over 120 innings this regular season. Witthaus finished the season with a 10-8 record and a 1.22 ERA. She finished with 17 complete games. She started 17 games and pitched 19 games. Witthaus pitched 74 ⅓ innings last season, finishing the season with a 2.07 ERA. Witthaus has increased the spin she generates on her pitches over the last couple years, which she sees as one of the keys to her recent success.
“I just continue to work on what I’m doing,” Witthaus said. “I have great coaches and teammates and family who always pick me up and support me. I’ve also learned how to spin the ball better. I think I’ve gained a little more speed, so that’s been helpful.”
Witthaus’ largest strides this season have come at the plate. After hitting ninth for the Lady Warriors last season, Witthaus has hit second for Warrenton. She has led the team in most statistical categories. She finished the regular season with a .577 batting average. She hit six home runs and finished with 21 RBIs. She added 11 doubles and one triple on the season. Witthaus finished last season with a .250 batting average, with no home runs and 16 RBIs. She only had three extra base hits last season.
“In the offseason, I definitely focused on my hitting a little more and trying to see live pitching more so I can be ready for the season when it comes and step up,” Witthaus said.
Warrenton softball coach Chad Berrey characterized Witthaus as an average hitter her first two years at Warrenton. Berrey believes Witthaus should have been an all-state player last year but her batting numbers were not high enough and she was overpassed by other players in the state.
“After a conversation that we had at the end of the season last year, she understood that her offensive game had to be elevated,” Berrey said. “So as everyone can see, she worked incredibly hard with the stick and right now, she’s at the top of the leaderboards in a lot of categories in the St. Louis area.”
While earning all-state honors was a motivating factor, Witthaus stressed she was more determined to improve offensively to help the team.
Berrey has also seen growth from Witthaus on the mound over the last several years. The Lady Warriors were blessed to have two quality starting pitchers in Witthaus’ first two seasons. Berrey said this is not common, especially at a smaller school like Warrenton.
Over the past couple seasons, Berrey has seen Witthaus make strides both physically and mentally in handling difficult situations.
“We saw a huge growth in her mentally with staying poised in tough situations, getting behind in counts, runners in scoring position,” Berrey said. “As she was in middle school to her freshman year, she used to quake a little bit in tough situations. That’s not the case anymore. She digs her heels in in pressure situations and she actually performs better than she did if there wasn’t pressure on her.”
Berrey believes lessons with pitching coach Randi Davis helped Witthaus learn how to increase her spin rate and implement a rise ball.
Witthaus believes watching experienced pitchers succeed in difficult situations and talking to them about pitching in those situations gave her confidence to succeed in those situations.
“As a freshman, I was like I don’t want to mess this up,” Witthaus said. “But now, seeing them succeed, it made me feel like I got this, I can do this. Not I don’t want to mess up.”
The Lady Warriors finished the regular season with a 12-8 record and the top seed in the Class 4, District 4 tournament despite only returning a few starters from last year’s team. Berrey saw Witthaus, along with the other returning starters, take on leadership roles this season.
“We can see her talking with other players a little more, organizing, taking in the information from the coaches and making sure everyone’s on the same page,” Berrey said. “So she definitely makes the girls around her better.”
Witthaus said she would like to play softball at the collegiate level. For now, her focus is on helping the Lady Warriors achieve success on the softball diamond.
“She played with me since seventh grade,” Berrey said. “I’m really proud of the accomplishments and the growth that she’s had and seeing her grow as an individual has been a blessing over the last five years. And we’re not done yet, we have another year.”
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