By: John Raffel
Swan Valley pitchers set for big senior seasons
Swan Valley senior softball pitchers Callie Burgess and Kalynn Gulliver both are committed to playing at Northwood University next year.
But first, the two right-handed pitchers want to help Swan Valley make another long ride into the state tournament this spring.
They’ve both been four-year varsity players.
Coach Tom Kennelly’s team has lost in the state quarterfinals the past two seasons and have built an 80-5 record, led by Burgess and Gulliver.
“Callie has been all-state both years,” Kennelly said. “Kalynn has been honorable mention. She hits pretty well too. Callie has been the No. 1 hitter. They’re very different. Callie is strong, but very small. Kalynn is big, tough.”
Kennelly has observed the two girls have different strengths as pitchers.
“Callie has a variety of pitches,” Kennelly said. “She has gotten better every year. She throws a rise ball, change and a curve. She has more pitches than Kalynn, who more or less has a pretty hard drop ball and changeup. Kalynn tries to get hitters to get into ground balls. Callie is more apt to strike you out, throwing the rise ball.”
Gulliver had seven home runs last season and plays first base when she doesn’t pitch.
“Callie can play just about any position besides catch when she doesn’t pitch,” Kennelly said.
The decision on who pitches usually depends on the opponent.
“Callie is usually No. 1 and Kalynn No. 2,” Kennelly said.
Burgess has enjoyed plenty of highlights in her high school career at Swan Valley.
“Throughout the years, I’ve gotten help to improve my batting,” she said, adding that as a pitcher, “I can read the batter really well.”
Burgess and Gulliver are hoping to post a memorable final high school season. But they admit they’re intrigued with the idea of going to Northwood together.”
“We’re really excited,” Burgess said.
Gulliver had seriously considered going to Ferris, but being able to be closer to home and other factors contributed to her decision to pick Northwood.
Right now the focus is on her spring high school season.
Gulliver is confident her pitching performances can be even better this year.
“My batting average, I’d like it to be higher than it has been,” she said.