All glitter, no gloves

Sean Ammerman

Fitzpatrick’s rituals help her put up numbers

Sophomore first baseman Jamie Fitzpatrick is one home run away from Kent State’s home run record. MICHELE ROEHRIG | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Fitzpatrick’s 2006 stats

• 11 home runs

• 26 runs

• 119 at-bats

Before every one of her 119 at-bats this year, sophomore Jamie Fitzpatrick dresses her hands with chalk instead of wearing batting gloves.

The first baseman and clean-up batter for the Kent State softball team said she can’t stand to wear gloves, a usual piece of equipment for softball players.

In addition, Fitzpatrick always wears glitter above her eyes. If she forgets, she said she fears bad luck.

The rituals have led to 11 home runs and 26 runs this season.

Her secret, she said, lays in concentration, which stems from her work ethic.

“Just seeing the ball is the most important thing,” Fitzpatrick said. “Keeping your eyes and head in and focusing on my hit selection.”

While at the plate, she looks for her favorite pitch, which is inside and down the middle. But word has spread to other teams, and she’s began getting more pitches to the outside.

“I’ve been working extra hard on the outside,” she said.

The work paid off in game two of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Youngstown State as Fitzpatrick hit her first home run off an outside pitch. It came with two runners on, breaking the game open for the Flashes as they went on to win, 12-6.

The home run also put her one away from tying the Kent State single-season record set by Denae Jones in 1999.

“I think it’s cool,” Fitzpatrick said about the record, “but as long as we are winning, the record isn’t that important. If it happens, it happens. Right now I’m just trying to hit the ball.”

Kent State coach Karen Linder said Fitzpatrick has been known as a power hitter since her high school days in Georgia. But she was better known at her school for pitching, where she had a .053 era and 13 shutouts.

“Part of the reason we recruited her is because she is a power-hitting pitcher that can also play a position,” Linder said.

Fitzpatrick has made many improvements from last year, Linder said, and is playing a more consistent, well-rounded game as a first baseman.

“Jamie brings a ton of energy and confidence to the team,” Linder said. “She is extremely intelligent and always thinking ahead of the game.”

Her intelligence extends past just playing softball.

Fitzpatrick is an “A” student, as an integrated mathematics major, Linder said. She hopes to be a high school softball coach while teaching math one day.

“I always think as a coach when I play,” Fitzpatrick said. “For future reference, I think of what to do and what works.”

If Fitzpatrick has a fault, Linder said she can be too hard on herself. But her work has helped lead the Flashes to a five-game winning streak and a 19-19 overall record.

Kent State is 7-4 in the Mid-American Conference and has a chance to extend the record today as it faces Northern Illinois. The doubleheader is set to begin at 1 p.m. in DeKalb, Ill.

The Huskies are 3-7 in conference play, but Fitzpatrick said the team knows better than to underestimate a MAC team.

“We have a team saying that our opponent has no name,” she said. “We do not worry about our opponent. We play the same way against every team.”

Contact softball reporter Sean Ammerman at [email protected].