Fitch senior pitcher Caroline Taber admitted that she was once known for not having a changeup as part of her arsenal.
That changed this season. And Taber, already one of the state’s best, became even more effective in the pitching circle.
Taber worked on perfecting that pitch all last summer while a member of the CT Charmers 18U Gold, coached by Seymour assistant Neil Swanchak.
“Last summer I was kind of playing around with changeups,” Taber said. “I always threw it back hand and I never really like it. It took too much speed off, and I didn’t have enough control over it. I was playing around with different grips and eventually I found this curveball grip, where you hold it tighter, and I really liked it.”
Since, the change up has become Taber’s go-to-pitch which kept hitters off-balanced, especially when most expected Taber to deliver yet another scorching fastball.
Taber, the Register’s State Player of the Year, went 27-0 with a 0.38 ERA this season for the Falcons, who won the Class L and ECC titles. Taber struck out 232 batters and walked just 12 in 129 innings.
“It (the changeup) breaks away from righty batters, and it stays low in the zone,” Taber said. “It became one of my most used pitches in my repertoire. It definitely helped me so much this year in high school ball, a lot of people didn’t see it coming. A lot of people knew me last year as the girl who didn’t have a change up or didn’t have control over the change up. Definitely having it this year was a game changer.”
Fitch junior catcher Taylor Wolfgang called every one of Taber’s pitches this season.
“She loves it,” Wolfgang said about the changeup. “She’s very accepting of the pitches I call, we sort of have trust in each other. So, she knows if I call it that she knows I think it’s going to work against the batter. I can sort of tell by the way she grips the ball as to which pitch she wants to throw, so we almost read each other and I call it right away.”
Taber was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year for the second straight time this season. But Taber didn’t rest on her laurels. Instead, she worked to improve her craft.
“I’d say she improved immensely,” Wolfgang said. “She was great to begin with, but just her work and dedication is unbelievable. During the past year she worked on her game, so I think she definitely improved. She got better at hitting her spots, she has more pitches now, a lot more control of them, and she just shuts every single batter down.”
Playing for the Charmers last season proved invaluable for Taber.
“It’s like a completely different level,” Taber said. “You’re facing all these girls who practice softball every day of every week; every batter is a good batter. It definitely forced me to get such better control of my pitches. It’s crazy how much it has elevated my game.”
Taber helped guide Fitch to its second state championship in three seasons. The Falcons won a state title when Taber was a sophomore and lost to East Haven in the championship game last season.
“It (losing last season) definitely annoyed me, it got under my skin,” Taber said. “We definitely had the potential to do it but we were flat that game. This year it was a motivating factor. Our motto became No Mercy’ because Coop (Fitch coach Arielle Cooper) said that we have to be ready every game, that you can’t take a break just because you think you have it all wrapped up because you’re the one seed.”
Winning the state title as a senior was especially meaningful for Taber, who will pitch next season at Princeton.
“It was awesome,” Taber said. “I wanted to do it as a team because I’ve been with those girls since I was eight years old, in Mystic Little League, all-stars, and playing with them on travel teams when I was younger. I wanted to do it for them because I think of those girls as my sisters. Doing it for myself was also great, having that as how my high school career ended. It wrapped it up pretty nicely.”
— GameTimeCT (@GameTimeCT) June 11, 2016