Name: Cassie Weiss
Weiss’ week: Weiss, the team’s top starting pitcher, struck out 13 batters to lead McGuffey to a 10-4 victory over Bridgewater (N.J.) Friday in the Highlanders’ season opener at the Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C. She followed the performance Saturday against St. John Villa Park (N.J.) with 15 more strikeouts in a 6-4 win.
Much of the same: Weiss’ start to the season is a continuation of her strong play last year, which earned her the reputation as the top returning pitcher in Section 2-AA.
As a junior, Weiss was an all-district performer after striking out 139 batters with only seven walks in 114 innings. She led McGuffey to a 15-6 record and a spot in the WPIAL quarterfinals after moving down from Class AAA.
Using a variety of pitches and a keen sense for exploiting hitters’ weaknesses, Weiss has developed into one of the WPIAL’s best. She has an outstanding strikeout-to-walk ratio, which includes an average nine strikeouts per game during her high school career, so Highlanders head coach Bill Loar has the luxury of feeling confident every time Weiss steps into the circle.
“When you have a stat like that, you know you have a pitcher who is always going to keep you in the game no matter what happens,” Loar said. “She has the ability to let the defense work behind her. With the way she pitches, we believe we have the ability to play with anyone.”
When Weiss steps onto the field, the soft-spoken right-hander immediately sets all distractions aside. After completing her first inning, her confidence begins to build.
Testing her opponents’ strengths and weaknesses is vital for her comfort.
The opportunity to play new competition in Myrtle Beach brought out the best in her and Weiss enjoyed the test of an unknown opponent.
“It’s great to see that there are a lot better teams out there than what we’re used to,” Weiss said. “I basically find my comfort zone in the first inning. I have to figure out what pitchers work, and I tell my coach what I see.”
Preparation: The early schedule of games during WPIAL softball season is often cut short because of unpredictable weather, but even if McGuffey is forced to take time away from the diamond, Weiss finds time to hone her skills in her backyard.
She often asks her sister, Sammie, to catch while practicing location and perfecting one of her five pitches. Sammie, a junior who also plays softball for the Highlanders, often comes away with a sore hand from catching Cassie’s fastball.
The extra throwing sessions allow Cassie to simulate pressurized game situations, which the older Weiss welcomes.
“I don’t know why, but I think I do better with pressure than I do without pressure,” Cassie Weiss said. “I seem to get into my groove in games like that.”
Compiled by Lance Lysowski