Commentary: All Lauren West Wants is One More
Sat. May 12, 2012 at 12:35 a.m. | By Solange Reyner
By Solange Reyner
Lauren West pitched lights out for Bartow in the team's 5-0 Class 7A state semifinal win Friday night.
She threw a no-hitter with 11 strikeouts. She had five easy innings. She struck out the side in the second.
Her performance came against Tallahassee Lawton Chiles, a team that was 27-2 with 23 home runs coming into the game, a team that beat Niceville, the No. 1 team in the state at one point this season.
"Wow," West's coach, Glenn Rutenbar said of her performance. "She threw great tonight."
Added Adam Rich, Chiles' coach: "We weren't prepared for her velocity. She jammed the inside, hit her spots well and we had a hard time getting our hands through. We haven't faced a pitcher with that type of consistency all season long. Kudos to her."
Those compliments are nice.
But West isn't focused on them.
She's worried about what happens today in Clermont. The junior didn't even know she pitched a no-hitter until someone on the team notified her of the accomplishment. She didn't even believe it — someone had to turn her around and point her to the scoreboard.
"We have unfinished business," she said after the game. "None of this matters unless we win it tomorrow."
Friday counted a little bit. Today counts a heck of a lot more.
Bartow is gunning for its eighth state title and West will need to be on again if the Yellow Jackets want the chance to win it.
She did solid work on Friday, particularly getting ahead in the count and throwing lots of first-pitch strikes. Her location was on point, too. And, in typical fashion, she didn't show any emotion.
"That's her," catcher Shelby Duncan said.
Rutenbar expects a lot from his pitchers, which isn't a surprise to those roaming Bartow's inner circles.
His coaching philosophy is simple: Pitching first, defense second, hitting third.
"Some people don't see it that way," Rutenbar said. "They want to go and out-slug other teams but my philosophy is simple. When hitters can't hit a pitcher, they can't get on base. If they do get a hit and your defense is solid then they can back your pitcher up."
His approach has worked.
The Yellow Jackets have been to the state finals 12 times, 13 today. They won five state titles in a row from 2002-06. They made 10 straight final appearances from 1997 to 2006.
This team wants to continue that tradition.
For the seniors — Shelby Duncan, Wandy Darby, Tiffany Waltz and Taylor Wagner — it would solidify four years of hard work. For West, it would be redemption from losing in the state finals last year. She was on the mound when Bartow lost a close one, 2-1.
"We've got one more," she said.