Her heater came slowly.
James Madison softball ace Isabella Gerone added 6–7 miles per hour to her hurls after working with private pitching coach Glen Payne.
But the new heat didn’t come overnight — she worked on her arm for a year, and the going was slow at first.
“It took a little while,” the Hartford-bound windmiller said. “At first, it was just a lot slower. Then, as I kept going to practice, the speed just kept increasing.”
Gerone fanned a career-high 17 batters, allowed four hits, and walked none in the Knights’ 3–1 victory in eight innings against rival Telecommunication at the Dust Bowl on April 19. She also delivered the go-ahead hit — a two-run homer to left center in the top of the eighth — before striking out the side to close the game.
“She is throwing many more strikes,” Telecom coach Glenn McCartney said. “She used to be a little wild. You have to earn your way on base with here now.”
Gerone began the transformation two weeks before last year’s post season and occasionally switched between her old and new pitching motions mid-inning until she eventually got comfortable. The improvements helped her earn a Division-I scholarship over the summer, and now she is dominating the Public School Athletic League’s Brooklyn A division. Gerone is 4–1 with at 1.22 earned run average and 70 strikeouts in just 31 innings pitched.
“As soon as the season started, I noticed right away she was faster,” junior catcher Sam Mendelsohn said.
It appeared that all Gerone needed to out-duel Tele counterpart Thalia Santiago was the one-run Madison (5-1) scratch in the third. Santiago, who allowed three hits, struck out 12 and walked just one.
The lone free pass came to Taylor Trim, who later came around an error to make it 1–0.
The Yellow Jackets (8–1) evened the score at 1–1 on back-to-back singles by Isis Gonzalez and Santiago followed up by a bobbled ball that allowed Gonzalez to come home. Tele did threaten in the bottom of the seventh — thanks to a two-out double by Amanda Ramos — but could not bring it home. McCartney is happy with how his team is playing, despite the defeat.
Gerone made Tele pay in the top of the eighth when she blasted a two-run homer on the first pitch she saw.
The victory moves Madison into first place in the division. The Knights have won five straight since dropping its opener against Susan Wagner. They hope to keep the momentum going.
“This was a very important game,” Mendelsohn said. “We needed to get on top.”