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Attitude, aptitude of a champ

When Becky Powell is in the game, she elevates her entire Eagles team.

By DAVID MURPHY
Published March 15, 2007


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Becky Powell has a chiropractor. And a massage therapist.

"All these superstars have their own training staffs," Springstead coach Craig Swartout said sarcastically.

But he doesn't seem to mind. Whatever it takes to keep his junior pitcher ticking.

As unpredictable as Class 4A, District 8 has been this season, one thing appears clear: As Powell goes, so does Springstead.

Through 13 games, the junior is 6-4 with a 1.00 ERA. She has 71 strikeouts against 13 walks. She also has established herself as one of the team's emotional leaders.

"It's a lot different when she is out there," Swartout said. "Not just from a pitching standpoint, but from a mental standpoint. Other girls rally around her. Her aura is pretty impressive."

Which brings us to the massage therapist and chiropractor. Without them, Powell wouldn't be out there. In a late-February game against Gulf, she pinched her sciatic nerve while pitching.

"I went to field a bunt," she said, "and I went the wrong way."

The injury sidelined her for three games. Springstead struggled. Powell watched. But she didn't give up on the season, though Swartout said other players would have. She continued going to the chiropractor and started getting massage therapy every Saturday.

She returned in a loss to Pasco and struggled. Since then, she has thrown three straight shutouts.

"Funny how that works," Swartout said.

In fact, it has always worked that way. Powell said she has been playing softball since the age of 8. She tried volleyball once, but gave it up.

"Softball is my sport," Powell said.

She split time on the mound her freshman and sophomore seasons. This year, though, the spotlight is on her. In addition to her pitching, Powell is batting .469, second on the team to Hilary Fiocca's .514. Springstead is 7-6 and has high hopes for the rest of the season. A re-match against Hernando looms in a couple of weeks. Plus, there is a district tournament Swartout believes his team can win.

"I think better things are ahead," he said. "I think we can be competitive at districts."

Standing on the softball field at Springstead, Powell nodded in agreement. Then she said goodbye to her coach.

She had an appointment. With her chiropractor.

David Murphy can be reached at dmurphy@sptimes.com or 352 848-1407.

[Last modified March 14, 2007, 22:59:18]


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