Kasey Ricard bringing the heat to Littleton Softball – Lowell Sun
LITTLETON – It’s rare to see a high school softball pitcher throw well over 60 miles per hour. It’s also rare to see a high school pitcher have complete control of five, perhaps six different pitches in her arsenal.
However, Kasey Ricard is the exception.
“Kasey is one of those rare athletes that you get the privilege to coach,” said Littleton High girls softball head coach John Abruzzese, now in his 13th season. “She’s really mature for her age, works hard, she’s a real good leader and all she wants to do is win. That’s all she wants to do is win. If she has to do it herself, she’ll find a way. She’s just such a competitor and that’s rare. You don’t see it as much (these days), so to get her is a blessing.”
Ricard has absolutely dominated within the circle, since the first day she put on a Tigers uniform. As a freshman, she finished 19-1, helping Littleton win the Mid-Wach B League title and advance to the Division 2 North Sectional semifinals. In 115 innings, she struck out 198 batters, walked just 25 and gave up 10 earned runs for a miniscule 0.68 ERA.
After her sophomore season was cancelled due to COVID-19, she went 12-0 as a junior, which included 210 strikeouts in just 84 innings. She faced 296 batters and struck out all but 86 of them, while giving up just one earned run. That helped lead the team to the league and Central Mass Championship titles, but the Tigers elected not to enter the MIAA Open State Tournament, since Kasey and a few of her teammates would not be competing due to their commitment to Club Softball.
Those days last summer playing for the Polar Crush Club Team actually set her back a bit. She pitched so often that she ended up getting stress fractures in her arm and sprained ligaments in her elbow.
“I had to take four months off with no softball whatsoever,” she said. “I had to wear an arm brace for five weeks, so it’s been a couple of long months, but I’m glad I’m back.”
On Wednesday, she tossed five shutout innings with 13 strikeouts in the team’s win over Quabbin Regional. That lifted her record to 3-0 on the season, and she has struck out 42 batters in just 14 innings, while walking just one. Although she wasn’t peaking at 64 miles per hour with her fastball in this game, the sound that the ball made hitting catcher Evie Tule’s mitt each time, seemed to get louder and louder.
“I’m almost back to where I was,” said Ricard. “It’s close. I’m usually better with my locations. My spins (of my pitches) were effected a lot by the sprains so I’m trying to keep them where I want exactly. It’s heading in the right direction.”
Throughout the season, Ricard has displayed a variety of pitches between the regular fastball, curve and changeup, as well as a rise, drop and screwball. She can throw the curve on two different planes, and previously tried four different change-ups, before settling on the ‘flip-change’ which is difficult to master. She threw two beauties in the Quabbin game, where the bottom completely fell off, and well off the plate.
“We’ve been trying to get her to throw more changeups,” said Abruzzese. “She needs to have that pitch ready for when she needs it and for when this season is over and she goes to BU, she needs to be confident in throwing that pitch. She has so many different pitches. Usually, you see a pitcher with one or two that they can rely on and the other ones they continue to work on, but she’s got five or maybe six different ones where she has full command of where she wants to throw them. She has worked had to be able to do that, it just hasn’t happened overnight.”
Being in the circle isn’t something that Ricard wanted to do, but over the course of time those thoughts have changed.
“To be honest, I didn’t like pitching at first because it stressed me out,” said Ricard. “I didn’t want to be in the seventh inning and I didn’t want to be that pitcher. Pitching has actually helped me a lot outside of softball. It’s given me a lot of confidence. I love pitching now. I want to go in the seventh inning, I want games to go into extra innings and be the one that everyone has to rely on in order for us to get the win.”
Besides her pitching excellence, she’s also quite the hitter, including batting .426 as a freshman and now .438 this season with one home run. Outside of softball, she’s an excellent student, who will be attending Boston University on a softball scholarship to play for former three-sport star at Amesbury High, Ashley Waters, while pursuing a Health/Science Degree with hopes of becoming a Physician’s Assistant. Her mother Kelly is an emergency room nurse. Her family also includes her father, Christopher, a former defensive lineman at UMass-Lowell, and 12-year-old brother Cody.
“I just really loved Coach Ashley’s personality and I really loved how close I’ll be to Boston, which has always been one of my favorite cities,” said Ricard on why she chose BU over Fordham University. “I liked the campus, I liked being right down Commonwealth Ave and the softball program has been doing so well since Coach Ashley has taken over, so I really thought it would be a great fit. My family have been the people who have been pushing me to stay in softball. They know how much I love it and they have supported me the whole time and I’m so glad that they’ll continue to watch me pitch at BU.”
Until she puts on the Terriers uniform for the first time, however, there’s still some unfinished business to attend to here at Littleton.
“We’re looking for redemption,” said Ricard. “Tyngsboro won the state title last year so we’re hoping it goes through us this year.”