CARROLLTON, Ala. — There is nothing routine about being dominant.
But don’t try to talk to Shelby Lowe about the statistics that offer indisputable evidence she is in control when she is in the circle. The only thing the Pickens Academy sophomore left-hander focuses on when she pitches is doing her job to help ensure her teammates can make the routine plays.
Lowe has been doing her best to keep those opportunities to a minimum.
Last Monday, Lowe pitched an eight-inning no-hitter and struck out 18 in a 1-0 victory against South Choctaw Academy. She threw a complete-game one-hitter and struck out 17 in another 1-0 victory against South Choctaw Academy last Tuesday. On Thursday, Lowe pitched a perfect game and struck out 15 in a 2-0 victory against Bessemer Academy.
“It’s just mind boggling the numbers she has,” Pickens Academy coach Wade Goodman said. “It’s hard work. She has a good pitching coach and she is willing to work. She works year-round.”
For her accomplishments, Lowe is The Dispatch’s Prep Player of the Week.
After a throwing a complete-game one-hitter and striking out 13 (no walks) in a 2-0 victory against Marengo Academy, Lowe has allowed 15 hits in 74 innings. She has struck out 167.
“It’s like a video game,” said Goodman, who said Lowe has thrown three no-hitters and a perfect game.
Lowe, who hits third in the lineup, also has shown some pop at the plate. She went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, and four RBIs in a 12-1 victory against Jackson Academy.
But Goodman said Lowe, who has dreams of playing softball at Auburn, makes her biggest contributions in the circle. He said her control is “off the chart,” which allows her to control counts. Goodman said it also helps Lowe that she has an overpowering fastball and a variety of riseballs to terrorize hitters. It says something about Lowe’s dominance that Goodman feels her best pitch is her dropball.
“She is just so competitive,” Goodman said. “I don’t even think she gets frustrated with working year-round. It is three days a week in the offseason and four or five days a week during the season.”
Lowe’s 11-1 record speaks to her dominance. Goodman said 90 is most pitches Lowe has thrown in a game this season. He said she threw 48 strikes in a 54-pitch outing.
Lowe said she doesn’t set a strikeout goal every game. Instead, she tries to avoid thinking about her individual accomplishments because she knows pitching requires her ultimate focus.
Goodman said Lowe’s maturation has enabled her to remain so consistent. He recalls Lowe being dominant in the circle when she played as a sixth-grader when he didn’t coach the school’s fast-pitch softball team. He returned to coach the following year and has marveled at Lowe’s ability to command the strike zone and to make big pitches in key situations.
Lowe said repetition has helped her make domination appear to be easy, but she credits her teammates and her pitching coach, Gary Thomas, who works out of Gordo, for setting her up to succeed. Lowe said she has been working with Thomas since she was 8 years old.
“I do have a bunch of strikeouts, but I am just pitching to the plate so the team can make the routine plays,” Lowe said. “I don’t keep up with the numbers of strikeouts I have. If somebody tells me how many strikeout I had, that is the only way I know.”
Lowe said she has six or seven pitches and she continues to work on “perfecting” them. To show how serious she is about her craft, Lowe said she has three riseballs that she can throw to change the eye level of hitters. She said she has grown more confident in her ability to throw each pitch anytime in the count.
Lowe also said her knack for “reading” hitters has improved. She credits her experience with her travel ball team, the Birmingham (Ala.) Thunderbolts, for helping her become even more dominant.
“I am meeting my expectations,” Lowe said. “We are making the routine plays, and I haven’t had that many hits off me.”
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.