Sports

One-Two Punch

One comes at you from the right, the other from the left. But they have nothing to do with politics.

Junior pitchers Amanda Galla and Brittany Miller have combined to form a formidable one-two pitching combination that’s looking to take the South Kitsap fastpitch team back to the Class 4A state tournament.

The duo gets to showcase their skills this weekend as they lead the Wolves into the West Central/Southwest District tournament at Sprinker Rec Area in Spanaway.

The Wolves played two games late Friday night, needing to win at least one to advance through into today’s final games of the double-elimination tournament. Eight of the 16 teams competing will advance to next week’s state tournament at SERA Field in Tacoma.

Miller has been playing fastpitch since she was 9, and most of those years have been spent on the mound. Galla has been playing since she was 5 and began pitching at age 12.

But it’s more than just their pitching experience that’s had batters confused most of the year. It’s the fairly unique righty-lefty combo that’s kept opposing teams guessing.

“It confuses them,” Galla, the left-hander said. “I throw a lot more junk than I do speed, so they can’t really tell. I like to keep them guessing all the time.”

It’s a pitching situation that’s not seen too much, especially in fastpitch.

“Not usually,” Galla said. “Usually you only see a team with one good pitcher, but not two.”

“It’s not likely you’ll even find a left-handed pitcher,” Miller said. In fact, Galla is the only lefty on the entire team. But just having the two on the team is something coach Kathy Ballew enjoys.

“Of course, I love having two strong pitchers that I can rely on,” Ballew said. “You can rest one, which is nice, especially in tournaments playing back-to-back, without losing anything. Having a southpaw also keeps ’em a little off-balance, too.”

Besides having the ability to come from either side of the plate, both pitchers also have multiple pitches to keep batters off balance.

Galla throws a curve ball — her best pitch — along with a knuckleball, fastball, riseball, drop and three different changeups, with a screwball mixed in.

Miller uses a fastball, knuckle-change, curveball and riseball that sometimes turns into a screwball.

Those pitches have allowed the two to post some pretty gaudy numbers. Galla is 10-2 on the year, having allowed just seven runs all season for a 0.55 earned-run average and more than 80 strikeouts in 75 innings pitched.

Miller is 4-3 with a 0.72 ERA in 58 innings with 75 strikeouts.

Galla has become the dominant pitching force as of late, getting the call in the Wolves’ Narrows League cross-over game and seeding game due to an illness to Miller, who sat out two games with what was thought to be appendicitis.

Miller is healthy now and available for the rest of the season.

She got most of the starts early in the season with Galla pitching the final three or four innings. The pair have racked up plenty of strikeouts and the ball rarely leaves the infield. In fact, they have a name for their style — small ball.

“You have to have a good pitcher to have a good team,” Miller said. “Pitching is a big part of it, and the corners mean a lot with the bunting. You have to have a set infield. If you don’t have a really tight infield, you’re going to struggle a little bit because a lot of it is small ball.”

So the pressure is on each of them each time out.

“I love it. I work best under pressure,” Galla said. “I remember going into the bottom of the seventh (inning with) two on and two out and everyone is asking if I’m stressing, and I’m like, ‘No, this is why I play. This is what I love.’ ”

“I seem to do better when more pressure is on me,” Miller said. “Whenever there’s runners in scoring position, it seems to make me do better.”

The two say they are ready for a deep playoff run.

“I’ve been waiting for this all year,” Galla said. “This is what you work all season for.”

And they both believe their pitching will be enough to earn the team a shot at the state title.

“I think we have the pitching, and we have the infield to back us up,” Miller said. “And we have a few solid hitters, so we’ll definitely have the run support.”

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