Taylor Fultz expected to challenge hitters by adding a "ghost pitch" to her repertoire this spring.
Instead, it was her senior season with the Grandview Heights softball team that faded away.
Fultz was disappointed that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of spring sports. For her, it ended a softball career that began in elementary school.
"I had gotten my (fastball) speed up a bit, and I was throwing a lot faster than last year," Fultz said. "Something just clicked this year. I started throwing harder one day in (preseason) practice, and I thought it was a fluke. Then it kept happening day after day.
"I also saw a 'ghost pitch' on Instagram, and I thought it would help. It only took a couple of practices to get it down. At first it was kind of a joke, but it worked and we were excited about it."
Fultz described the pitch as "an extreme change-up."
"There is no momentum behind it," she said. "You let go of the ball, and it floats over the plate. It doesn't come out of the same slot as a normal pitch, so it throws people off."
Fultz also had added another new pitch, a riseball, to go along with her fastball and change-up.
"The ghost pitch comes out of a half-windmill instead of a full rotation of the arm,"coach Tori Lynch said. "It kind of looks like a knuckleball would in baseball. It comes on you before you expect it."
Last season, Fultz pitched 53 2/3 innings with a 3.00 ERA as the Bobcats finished 5-19 overall and 2-7 in the MSL-Ohio Division. She walked 25 batters but had a .610 first-pitch strike percentage.
"Last year, Taylor only had a fastball and change-up, but she had a great ability to control the ball," Lynch said. '"If we called a low-outside fastball, she could hit that spot. She could put either one of her pitches in any of the eight spots around the plate."
Fultz also played outfield and batted .280 with a .418 on-base percentage. She was named second-team all-league.
She said softball had become an important activity for her family.
"I have played since I was really young and my dad (Tom Fultz) coached me until the seventh grade," she said. "It was our way of bonding."
As for the Bobcats, Fultz was expecting team-wide improvement this spring.
"I really liked this team," she said. "(The eight seniors) have been with coach Tori since we were seventh-graders. This was supposed to be our big year, so it's kind of hard since we had worked so hard for it."
Fultz also played first singles for the girls tennis team last fall and will play that sport at Mount Union.
"I didn't start playing tennis until my freshman year and that was because I wanted to do another sport to stay in shape for softball," she said. "You have to have good hand-eye coordination in both sports. I also like that tennis is an individual sport, which is probably why I like pitching. I like it when it's all on me."
Fultz plans to major in integrated media. She will miss playing softball, but the cancellation of the spring season taught her valuable lessons.
"Some things you can't control," Fultz said. "You have to have a positive attitude about everything. Yeah, we didn't have this season, but I remember all of the good seasons I had with everyone. I will always remember those."