Tracy Corneil calls Megan Krantz an "expert pitching chart keeper," but the Valparaiso softball coach also knows her junior pitcher/shortstop is more useful in the field.
Krantz is 5-4 with a 3.68 ERA and six complete games against the daunting competition on the Vikings' schedule. The cleanup hitter is batting .262. Corneil believes Krantz is one of the reasons Valpo, 9-19 a season ago, has made a turnaround this season. The Vikings are 10-9 overall and 5-6 in the highly competitive Duneland Athletic Conference.
"She contributes a lot of things, both intangible and tangible," Corneil said of Krantz. "She has a defensive presence on the mound (and at shortstop). She brings a lot to our team, and I think that's huge for us."
Krantz left a gaping hole in the lineup last season when she suffered a bone bruise on her right foot and missed six weeks of the season.
"I was working in practice (during the second week of the season), doing a drill," said Krantz, who was relegated to charting pitches during games. "I slid at home and twisted my foot.
"It was very difficult to sit on the bench. I wanted to go out there and play. We only had one pitcher, and I kind of felt bad for her, too."
Krantz returned for a few games at the end of last season.
"When I came back, I didn't do so hot," she said.
In the offseason, she had a chance to regroup and continue to pitch in travel ball. She returned this season with a renewed energy.
"Missing those games, especially those conference games, made me want to go and show what I could do this year," she said. "I'm mixing up my pitches, changing locations, speeds and approaches to hitters. (At the plate), I'm trying to be more aggressive."
She's now in her third season on varsity and in a position to take advantage of her experience.
"It helped playing as a freshman," Krantz said. "I was still 14, and I was playing against girls who were 17 and 18. That made me really hope to return for my sophomore and junior year."
Krantz played at first base when she wasn't on the mound in past seasons, but she's moved over to shortstop.
"She covers a lot of ground," Corneil said of Krantz. "She's got an excellent arm."
Krantz has assumed another role.
"She's worked her way into starting to take on a leadership role," Corneil said. "She's a big part of our team."