By CHIP CIRILLO | Photos by DEB SCALLY
Hannah Koenig spent a lot of time in the weight room during the offseason.
That could be bad news for Brentwood’s opponents if her pitching performance on Tuesday is any indication of what’s to come during her senior season.
The Louisiana Tech signee fired a three-hitter highlighted by 12 strikeouts in a 10-0 win over Ravenwood at Granny White Park in a game shortened to six innings by the 10-run rule.
Koenig added about 25 pounds of muscle, giving her a sturdy frame.
“I noticed I was getting real small and I was, like, you know, I really need to bulk up and I did,” Koenig said. “It’s added some power.”
She held Ravenwood (0-2, 0-1 District 11-AAA) to three singles and one walk on a cold afternoon with temperatures dipping to the mid-40’s by the end of the afternoon.
Only one Lady Raptor reached third base in the district opener. She kept Ravenwood off-balance by mixing her dropball and riseball.
Koenig, the 2017 district MVP, struck out five straight during one stretch late in the game.
“She’s really worked on perfecting her pitches,” Brentwood coach Erica Powell said. “We stopped trying to strike people out and we’re trying to get them to ground out or fly out, and because of that she’s getting more strikeouts. So, she just comes in ready to attack batters and she’s doing a great job.”
Koenig got ahead in the count with her riseball before coming back with outside pitches that were difficult to hit and often closed with the riseball.
“It looks pretty good coming in and then once it’s at contact it’s already above your hands, which is hard,” Ravenwood leadoff hitter Sydney Hughes said of the riseball. “She uses that late in the count, normally, to get you.”
Hughes led off the game with an infield single as the first four Lady Raptors reached base, but Koenig got out of the jam and went into lockdown mode after that. She struck out 11 of the last 17.
Koenig also killed it at the plate, going 3 for 4 from the No. 3 spot in the batting order.
“Hannah is a really good pitcher and I don’t want to take anything away from her, but we also have to do a better job of putting the ball in play,” Ravenwood coach Allison Brown said. “I think out of 22 batters that she faced, we struck out 12 times. So, we cannot strike out over half of our batters and expect to have a good outcome.”
Brentwood (2-0, 1-0) took a 2-0 lead in the first before adding one in the fourth, two in the fifth and the last five in the sixth.
“Just pitch selection,” Brown said. “We were watching good pitches go by and swinging at her riseball, which is exactly her game plan. That’s what she wants us to do and we fell right into it.”
Brentwood has scored 24 runs in its first two games, including Monday’s 14-3 win over Oakland.
“We decided our focus this year was going to be on hitting more than defense,” Powell said. “We used to go three days of defense and two days of offense at practice, but we switched it. Last year when we lost close games it was usually 2-1 or 3-1 and Hannah’s ERA is always pretty low. We want to focus on putting more runs on the board for her. And it worked today.”
Cleanup hitter Kaleigh Bottoms ended the game with a solo home run in the sixth.
Her dad, Derrick, is a former Overton star who pitched in the minor leagues for the Houston Astros from 1991-93. In spring training, he once roomed with Jeff Bagwell, who went on to became a four-time all-star and the National League MVP.
“She did a great job,” Powell said of her center fielder nicknamed KB. “Good blood in her veins.”
Brentwood returns seven of the nine starters from last year’s 31-11-2 team that finished fifth in the Class AAA tournament.
“We have high hopes, but we have a tough district,” said Powell, whose team swept the 11-AAA regular season and tournament titles in 2017.
Ravenwood has eight freshmen after going 11-14 last season.
“We’ll get better,” Brown said. “It’s still really early. It’s just frustrating right now, but I know we’ll get better, so I’m not worried about it.”
Ravenwood lost its opener 7-4 to Mt. Juliet, a sectional team last season.