Most players would be elated about being chosen to an all-conference second team as a freshman.
Not Dexter High School softball pitcher Avery Herrick, who was a Penobscot Valley Conference Class C all-star selection a year ago.
“I felt I had more speed, more velocity in my body than I was showing, and I didn’t know how to get it out of me,” sophomore right-hander Herrick said.
So, last winter, she started going to pitching coach Mike Cabral, who is also the co-head coach of the Greenville High School softball team.
It has paid dividends.
“He showed me how to get it out of me. He also taught me some more pitches. He has definitely helped me out a lot,” said Herrick, who pitched the Tigers to their first Class C regional championship since 2011.
The Tigers take on defending state champ Madison in Saturday’s noon state championship game at Coffin Field in Brewer. Madison is looking for its fourth state title in six years.
The fourth-seeded Tigers beat Fort Kent 17-3 in the quarterfinals before Herrick spaced 10 hits to shut out top seed Bucksport 2-0. She tossed a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts and just one walk to beat No. 2 Narraguagus of Harrington 3-2 in eight innings in the regional final.
“She has been tremendous for us,” first-year Dexter coach Jason Hardy said. “She has worked hard over the past year with her pitching coach, and she’s so competitive.”
Herrick has good life on her fastball, and Cabral has taught her a drop ball.
But her most effective pitch is her changeup, which she will throw in any situation.
“She has a real good changeup,” Bucksport coach Mike Carrier said. “And she’s very tough. She doesn’t get rattled by adversity. She’s a fighter. She is always around the [strike] zone, and she likes to pick the corners.”
Herrick also is working on a potential fourth pitch, a rise ball.
“Her changeup is insane. I don’t know what I would do against her,” Dexter sophomore shortstop Peyton Grant said.
Herrick didn’t start pitching until sixth grade but has been a fast learner.
She met Cabral in Dover-Foxcroft at least two times a week during the winter to work on her pitching.
Herrick, who is also a standout soccer and basketball player, said she loves pitching.
“It’s nerve-wracking being the center of the game, but once I’m out there, I’m right where I want to be,” Herrick said.
Herrick pitched out of several jams against Bucksport and credited her defense for its performance.
“They did an awesome job,” Herrick said.
The 14-5 Tigers know they will have their hands full with Madison pitcher Lauria LeBlanc and the Bulldogs, who are 18-1 — 38-1 over the past two seasons.
“Madison is a perennial powerhouse, but we’re used to being the underdog. We’re a No. 4 seed. We’ll be ready to play,” Hardy said.