Junior Haleigh Breuer pitched every other game for the Olentangy High School softball team each of the previous two seasons, rotating starts in the circle and at first base with Amanda Graham.

Junior Haleigh Breuer pitched every other game for the Olentangy High School softball team each of the previous two seasons, rotating starts in the circle and at first base with Amanda Graham.

Breuer put up good numbers as a sophomore, finishing with a 9-6 record and 101 strikeouts in 108 1/3 innings.

But realizing that she was going to be counted on to pitch nearly every game after Graham graduated, Breuer began working with a different pitching coach to try to improve her control, after she walked 38 batters last season.

Jimmy Yates, the owner of All Stars Advantage softball academy, began the process in August of changing Breuer's delivery.

After using a windmill pitching style during the first eight years of her softball career, in which she kept her right arm extended as she made a long circular motion with the ball before releasing it, Breuer was taught to keep her arm bent at the elbow as she made a shorter circular motion before throwing the ball.

Breuer also learned to keep her wrist loose, as well as to keep her right shoulder and right hip back as she delivered the ball.

As a result of those changes, Breuer has improved her control and emerged as one of the top pitchers in central Ohio this season.

"I put so much pressure on myself to improve my pitching because I knew I was going to be throwing almost every game since Amanda was graduating," Breuer said. "I worked really hard to completely change the way I pitch, and I've added a little bit of power. But the biggest difference has been that I've added movement and control to all of my pitches. That's helped me reduce my number of walks and keep people off the bases."

While many pitchers have struggled with their control since the pitching circle was pushed three feet further away from home plate this season to 43 feet, the change hasn't negatively affected Breuer.

Through Olentangy's first 13 games, Breuer had a 9-3 record with a 0.95 ERA and 67 strikeouts. She has given up 12 earned runs and 19 walks in 80 innings.

At the plate, Breuer had a .262 batting average with eight RBI, three doubles and two sacrifice flies.

"Haleigh's made tremendous strides with her pitching, maturity and leadership," coach Marty Mearhoff said. "She's always been a good pitcher, but walks were her biggest issue in the past. This year, she's got good command of three or four pitches and she's really hitting her spots. The biggest reason we've won 10 of our first 13 games is our pitching and defense."

But the transition to her new pitching style was difficult for Breuer, who struggled with the control and speed of her pitches for more than two months.

Breuer said she would have given up pitching altogether last fall if she hadn't received constant support and encouragement from her father, Eric, who accompanied her to all of her pitching lessons.

Eric Breuer was instrumental in his daughter's early development as a pitcher, as he spent countless hours serving as her catcher, before losing partial vision in his right eye after suffering a stroke in his sleep in May 2006.

"It was so uncomfortable and frustrating when I changed to the new motion, and I wanted to quit pitching several times because I was frustrated with my speed and I couldn't throw a strike to save my life," Haleigh Breuer said. "But my parents (Eric and Paula) kept encouraging me to practice the new motion every day, and my dad has been a huge inspiration to me. My dad has been through a lot of tough medical problems, but he's continued to work and do most of the same things he's always done, so seeing him make it through all of that hard stuff showed me that I can do it, too."

Breuer has mastered her new pitching style so well that she now gives pitching lessons to 8- through 12-year-olds at All Stars Advantage.

Before she graduates, Breuer hopes to the lead the Braves to at least one OCC-Cardinal Division title and a Division I district championship.

Breuer, who has played club softball as far west as California, as far south as Alabama and as far east as the Netherlands, also hopes to earn a Division I college scholarship.

"I really want to go to college on a softball scholarship because that's been my dream for most of my life to play at that level and help my family out financially," Breuer said. "I want to set an example for my younger brother, Cameron, and younger sister, Tara, that you can make your dreams come true through hard work."