When Roger Lower taught in Raytown a generation ago, one student he had been a fan of was Eric Reid. The longtime Blue Springs softball coach now is quite a fan of Reid’s daughter, too.
After the Reids moved and she transferred from Raytown to Blue Springs, Alexis Reid took over as the Wildcats’ starting pitcher as a sophomore in 2012, succeeding former Kansas hurler and current Arizona State hurler Kelsey Kessler. She quickly blossomed into one of the area’s top players, and this year led the Wildcats to a 29-2 record and a Class 4 district title with her thunderous bat and rifle right arm, earning the nod as The Examiner’s 2014 Player of the Year.
“I said I didn't want to see any film or talk to her until she was enrolled,” Lower said, recalling a conversation he had with Eric before the family moved and Alexis (and sister Brittani, a junior and the team’s second baseman and fellow All-Area first team selection) transferred. “She came in and she probably improved more in three years than any kid we’ve ever had. She could throw hard (as a sophomore) but didn’t understand a lot about pitching.
“I think she was the best pitcher in the state this year.”
Reid, who has signed to play at the University of Kansas next year, fashioned a 26-2 record in the circle this season, throwing five no-hitters and five more one-hitters. In 178 innings she struck out 223 batters and yielded just 64 hits, 32 walks and 17 runs (10 earned) for an 0.39 ERA.
She was nearly as important to the Wildcats’ success at the plate, where she batted .440 with a team-high 42 runs batted in. Twenty of her 39 hits went for extra bases, including 11 home runs (1.120 slugging percentage), and she scored 27 runs.
As a junior she was 21-4 with a 1.20 ERA and 192 strikeouts in 157 innings, and she hit .330 with five home runs and 27 RBIs.
“I do feel the season went pretty well,” Reid said. “I feel like I improved on a lot from the year before. My batting average went up from the year before.
Specifically, Reid said she felt better about her overall pitching ability.
“It was really difficult the first couple years calling pitches on my own,” she said. “Me and my catcher (Missouri State-bound Darian Frost) had to get on the same page. It’s not easy – you can't just pick any pitch and throw it at any time.
“We worked hard before high school ball even started, and she could see how each pitch spun, and if I make a mistake where it would go. I wasn’t mentally mature enough (as a sophomore) to take on that role of calling pitches. I threw too many over the middle of the plate. I couldn’t find that extra pitch to get the batter out.”
Lower said while Reid’s pitching ability grew during her three seasons, her competitive nature was always there. He remembers Reid coming up to him after a loss in 2012, saying she felt as if the result had been her fault and she was going to work hard to not let it happen again.
“For a sophomore to say that is pretty neat,” Lower said. “She wanted to make sure she did everything she could to make sure team was successful. If she gave up a hit, she wanted to make sure she got one back. She took on more of the load than she probably needed to.
“She and Darian did a great job of getting things together.”
Another aspect of Reid’s growth as a pitcher was her willingness to let the defense behind her go to work.
“I’m not always going be a strikeout pitcher,” she said. “Some days I can dominate, depending on my speed and spin. Some days I throw to get a bad result with the swing, if I see a flaw in their swing, just so I can get a ground ball. Being a pitcher I put a lot of trust in my defense. We rarely made a mistake on defense.”
“She’s a great, hard-working kid,” Lower said. “She deserved everything she got.”