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- Never too late
Heather Schwartzburg shining in senior season
Sometimes players are born to play a sport. That is the case with Quinnipiac softball pitcher Heather Schwartzburg.
From the moment she stepped onto the mound at the Quinnipiac Softball Field, she was ready for the big stage.
During her career, the 5-foot-10 pitcher from Mission Viejo, Calif. has set numerous pitching records not only for Quinnipiac, but the Northeast Conference as well. She has already set the program Division I strikeout record, and had more strikeouts in her junior year than the Bobcats had as a team each season before she arrived in Hamden.
“I think the record books speak for themselves on that,” Quinnipiac head coach Germaine Fairchild said. “She has come to Quinnipiac and taken hold with most of the major if not all of the major pitching records here as well as in the conference.”
Fairchild describes her ace as softspoken and says makes the most of her performances by letting the performances do the talking.
“She has gone about her business in a humble way and accepted the attention her performance has brought in a humble way,” Fairchild said. “To look out on the field during practice or a game you would never know she has had the kind of career that she has had.”
“With Heather, she didn’t wait, she continues to get better each and every day, and that is why she remains at the level which she is,” Fairchild added.As a freshman, Schwartzburg won the NEC Rookie of the Year while leading the conference in strikeouts with 206. Schwartzburg also posted a 1.68 ERA to go along with 15 wins and five shutouts and in the process holding opponents to a .196 batting average. In her sophomore season she earned 20 wins and accumulated a 1.51 ERA with 255 strikeouts in 41 games.
Each year, the finesse pitcher, as she is labeled by Fairchild, has transformed herself to become even better and more potent.
“She does not try to overpower the batter. She is consistent and she doesn’t miss very often,” Fairchild said.
Schwartzburg has adapted over the last few seasons to incorporate new pitches into her arsenal and, in doing so, has mixed things up making it difficult for other teams to adapt to her style.
“I try and learn something new every year and try to have a different approach,” she said. “I remember freshman year I had screws and curves and certain pitches and my drop ball wasn’t the strongest but I came back and had a rise ball and a drop ball which is vertical. I don’t know if that threw the other teams off but it was a different approach that I had from the year before. It was the same thing last year and this year I try to mix things up and keep them on their toes.”
This year, Schwartzburg said she was working more on her changeup.
“It’s something I haven’t had in the past and I haven’t used it very much,” she said. “It’s worked really well this year. Hopefully that will help me improve on more step.”
What is more special about Schwartzburg is her work ethic the past two seasons. After two great years as an underclassman she has continued her dominance.
“She has the physical tools to do what she has done,” Fairchild said. “She’s tall and has the leverage with the length of her limbs and long fingers and big hands and she understands how to spin the ball to make (it) move how she wants it to move. If its something that sets her apart it’s that.”
Last year, Schwartzburg was named NEC Pitcher of the Year after she had her most successful campaign of her career. She had a league-leading 1.42 ERA with 23 wins with a .129 opponents batting average. She broke the NEC and Quinnipiac softball single-season strikeout record with 296.
“Coach had sat down with us individually at practice one day and we we’re talking about what our goals were and what we wanted,” Schwartzburg said. “I told her I wanted NEC Pitcher of the Year and that’s what I wanted and what I am going to get.”
Currently, Schwartzburg has posted an 8-2 record in 73 innings and 81 strikeouts with a 1.05 ERA. In her career thus far, she has totaled 838 strikeouts with a 1.89 ERA.
“I want to leave the program doing what I have done the past three years and leaving my mark, whether it’s my strikeout count, games I won, I just want to make sure that the footprints that I left there are remembered and do that in any way that I can,” Schwartzburg said.