Name: Erica Burns
Burns’ weeks: Burns was dominant on April 1, when the Mikes hosted Monessen in a Section 2-A matchup. She struck out 17 batters, did not walk a batter and allowed only one hit during a complete-game shutout as Carmichaels defeated the Greyhounds, 6-0.
The switch: After spending her freshman season as the Mikes’ starting second baseman, Burns became the team’s starting pitcher last year and made a seamless transition to the circle. She led the area with 202 strikeouts in 157 innings with a 22-4 record and 1.52 ERA. Her pitching was key in Carmichaels’ run to the WPIAL Class A championship game and the PIAA quarterfinals.
It was not an unexpected leap. Burns did start six games at pitcher as a freshman and Carmichaels head coach Dave Briggs calls her one of the best players he has ever coached.
“She’s such a great athlete,” Briggs said. “You have some girls who can pitch and that’s it, but she’s great. It comes natural to her. She can make adjustments on the fly. She has all the tools you want in a softball player. She’s one of the best players we’ve had at Carmichaels. You don’t get players like that every day.”
Burns was one of Carmichaels’ best hitters as a freshman and her sophomore season was no different. She led the team in batting average (.449), doubles (eight), triples (four), RBI (27) and runs (32). This season, she has picked up where she left off last year at the plate with a team-high .455 batting average.
She can do it all. Burns only committed one error as a freshman in her first year as an infielder.
“Last year, pitching was just awesome,” Burns said.” Being in control and carrying the team as good as you possibly can is great. This year, it’s an all-new team and it’s difficult. You are going to struggle, but you have to get better. We are on track to achieve a lot.”
While team need delayed her high school pitching career, Burns embraced the move from second base.
“Pitching is something I’ve always loved doing,” Burns said. “I wished I had more of a chance as a freshman. I guess I thought I would come out and pitch as a freshman, but starting at second base, I had a lot of fun.”
Once a pitcher, always a pitcher: While Burns captured the attention of many as an infielder in 2012, it was new to her. She has been pitching since the sixth grade and her maturity was on display last week as she shut down Monessen. She currently has a 6-1 record this season with an ERA undert 1.00, 71 strikeouts and just four walks.
She has pitched back-to-back no-hitters this week, including a three-inning perfect game Tuesday against California.
“I’ve never really realized when I’m in the zone,” Burns said.
“I approach every pitch like it’s a championship game. Every one counts. I don’t care if I have twenty strikeouts or two. I’m going to keep that pace going.”
Compiled by Lance Lysowski