Talent and ability go a long way, but most athletes fail to reach their full potential until they develop a high level of mental toughness and maturity.
As a starting pitcher for the Ashley Ridge High School softball team since the school opened in 2009, Paige Deschaine had solid seasons in her first three years, earning all-region and all-state honors. However, as coach Angi Brush says, Deschaine has raised her play to another level in 2012.
“There was no question that she had the potential and the ability to be a dominant pitcher,” says Brush, who has coached Deschaine for the last three seasons. “My first year with her, I wasn’t sure if she would be mentally tough enough to take the next step. She had everything physically. But at that point in her sophomore year, I wondered if she could develop that mental toughness that all the great pitchers have at some point.
“Since the end of last season, I have seen a completely different person. She has really worked unbelievably hard. She has been at every workout and she goes at it hard. She has motivated her teammates to work just as hard and she has pushed herself to the limit. She always had a good work ethic, but it really took a big step forward over the fall and into this season.”
Deschaine’s numbers have been the best of her career as well. After walking 44 hitters in 2011, Deschaine has walked only 13 hitters this season. She has an 0.78 ERA and recently recorded her 1,060th career strikeout. Deschaine has a 55-18 career record, including a 13-3 mark this season.
She also excels as an offensive player. Working as the leadoff hitter, Deschaine has 130 career hits and has scored 81 runs. Her days as a hitter, however, will end after this season. Deschaine recently signed a scholarship to play at Augusta State and will only pitch at the next level.
“I love hitting and playing other positions, but pitching has been my passion,” says Deschaine, who also played nine years with the SC Bandits travel program. “I love being in control of the game as a pitcher. I like the challenges and I don’t mind being under the pressure.”
On the high school level, Deschaine often can dominate hitters with her low 60s fastball. She also possesses a variety of offspeed and breaking pitches that will serve her well at the next level.
“I guess I’m considered a power-type pitcher now, but I have worked hard to be able to throw all of my other pitches for strikes,” she said. “I try to get ahead with the fastball and then use my junk to get people out.”
Brush says playing competitive travel ball during the summer has helped Deschaine grow and mature.
“They play some of the top teams in the country, so she has been really challenged,” the coach said. “A lot of her maturity came from the summer stuff she did and she has continued that mentality this spring.”
I think the best is yet to come with her. She will have an outstanding college career.”