Marucci’s sixth edition of the 2019 college round-up highlights two softball phenoms, Courtney Coppersmith (UMBC) and Jenny Bressler (UNLV).
Coppersmith, a southpaw from York, Pennsylvania, boasts a 15-7 record accompanied by a league-best 1.30 ERA. She became the first America East player to sweep all three awards - player, pitcher and rookie of the week – on April 9.
Over midway through her first season, Coppersmith has registered 246 strikeouts, which ranks second in Division I. She tossed her third no-hitter Saturday against Delaware State while punching out 12. Coppersmith recorded a program-record 17 strikeouts twice during complete-game shutouts.
How is she so dominant? By mixing a devastating rise ball with a deceptive changeup. Coppersmith can locate her rise ball in and out of the zone and mixes in an off-speed pitch that looks a lot like a fastball before buckling.
“I try to go at batters and get ahead so I can get them to swing and miss at certain things that might not be a strike,” Coppersmith said. “I think that’s what makes me so effective – they might not know where the ball is going to end up or what pitch is going to come to them.”
What makes her freshman campaign even more impressive is that she was held out of fall practices and scrimmages with a dislocated right elbow.
Coppersmith’s most impressive performance may have come against Norfolk State on April 3, contributing a 10-strikeout complete game in the circle and a grand slam – her first career homer – that broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning.
GRAND SLAM! COPPERSMITH DOES IT ALL! She hits a tiebreaking 2-out 2-strike grand slam in the bottom of the 6th to break the tie and put UMBC up 5-1!— UMBC Softball (@UMBCsoftball) April 3, 2019
Bressler is making waves on the other side of the country for the Rebels. She was a key contributor in UNLV’s two victories over Stanford, a team that is ranked No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Softball poll, hurling a complete-game shutout in game 1 and picking up the save on 1.2 scoreless frames in game 2. Bressler was also a catalyst in the squad’s first-ever sweep over San Diego State on March 29-31.
And that will do it! REBELS WIN!! UNLV hands Stanford just its third loss of the season and moves to 18-5 on the year! @ssamanthaalyssa comes up with the game-winning hit and @JennyBressler with 7.0 scoreless innings & six strikeouts for her 11th win! #BEaREBEL pic.twitter.com/6jTWGCZCcQ— UNLV Softball (@UNLVSoftball) March 10, 2019
“I think I will always remember beating Stanford,” Bressler said. “Our whole team played really well in those games.”
A native of Canton, Michigan, Bressler’s transition to Las Vegas was made easier by teammate and fellow freshman Julia Vollmer. The two competed against each other growing up and lived about 30 minutes from each other in high school.
Bressler’s 16 victories and 105 strikeouts rank atop the Mountain West Conference. Like Coppersmith, Bressler believes that her rise ball is her best pitch and utilizes the rest of her arsenal to keep hitters off balance.
“I think I am really good at spinning the ball and locating it very well,” Bressler said. “I use that to my advantage to beat hitters.”
In game preparation, Bressler and her teammates embody the true meaning of honoring the game.
“I think honoring the game means to me that you love the game and you treat it with respect,” Bressler said. “You go out there each day at practice wanting to get better and having fun with it. Each game it just means so much being able to play the sport that I love.
“I think my coaches do a lot for preparing us to be put in tough situations in practice. We work really hard in practice and get put in different situations that prepare us for games. We just make it tough on ourselves in practice to make the games that much easier.”
These two freshmen will undoubtedly continue to heavily impact success for their teams.