Prep Softball

Pitching depth gives Cedar Rapids Kennedy softball an advantage

Kaylin Kinney, Jayme Scheck and Ashley Winterowd have a combined pitching career record of 51-10

Cedar Rapids Kennedy pitchers Ashley Winterowd, Jayme Scheck and Kaylin Kinney, during softball practice on May 14. The Cougars finished third at the state tournament last season. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Kennedy pitchers Ashley Winterowd, Jayme Scheck and Kaylin Kinney, during softball practice on May 14. The Cougars finished third at the state tournament last season. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Kaylin Kinney brings the speed. Jayme Scheck and Ashley Winterowd provide the spin.

Cedar Rapids Kennedy possesses uncommon pitching depth, and that figures to keep the Cougars in the top cluster of Class 5A softball teams this summer.

“We have two kids that are D-I-bound (in Kinney and Scheck),” Coach Maddison LeClere said. “Then, to have Ashley’s experience and maturity as a senior, that helps a lot.”

Or, as Kinney said: “We’ve got three pitchers that could could go just about anywhere and be their No. 1.”

Kinney (now a sophomore) and Scheck (a freshman) did the bulk of the pitching last season as Kennedy (37-8) enjoyed its best postseason run in school history, placing third at state.

A University of Nebraska commit equipped with a mid-60s fastball, Kinney posted a 13-3 record and a 1.68 ERA, striking out 121 and walking 16 in 112 2/3 innings.

Scheck was the surprise of the staff as an eighth-grader.

“I didn’t know anything about Jayme until October or November before her eighth-grade year,” LeClere said.

As a rookie, Scheck went 10-3 with a 1.61 ERA, fanning 118 and walking 11 in 78 1/3 innings.

At 5-foot-8, Scheck is 2 inches taller than last year.

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“She has gotten faster,” LeClere said. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen her hands, but they’re huge.”

Scheck acknowledged, “I can create a lot of spin with my fingers. I have more spin than last year. More people seem to be chasing the ball.”

Kinney’s dominance and Scheck’s emergence meant a decrease in innings last year for Winterowd, who had gone 14-1 as a sophomore in 2016.

And she was fine with that.

“I’ll help wherever I can, support the team any way I can,” said Winterowd, a third-team all-stater, primarily at second base. She was 5-1 in the circle last year and owns a 21-4 career mark.

“I really like playing second base, but if I happen to be the best fit as a pitcher against a certain team, I’m all for it.”

LeClere is in her second season as the head coach. One of her jobs is to determine which pitcher is most effective for a certain opponent.

Another is to make them all a little better. Kennedy lost four position players to graduation, so the pitching will have to continue to progress.

Kinney, Scheck and Winterowd have a combined career pitching record of 51-10.

“My challenge to all of them in the offseason was to make their changeup more automatic,” LeClere said.

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Kinney committed to Nebraska before her freshman season. She’s a power pitcher, and a power hitter, clubbing 17 doubles and 13 home runs last season, driving in 54 runs.

She was a first-team all-stater last year, and now is one of the veterans.

“The coaches will do whatever is best in terms of matchups, whether it’s Jayme or Ashley or me pitching,” Kinney said. “We’ll put the best defense out here for the situation.”

Kennedy opens the season Tuesday at Cedar Rapids Xavier. Last year is over.

“They’re still hungry,” LeClere said. “As awesome as third place was, and it was a huge accomplishment, I think they all want more.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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