Local stars shine at college level
Two former prep softball stars finally get a chance to meet head-to-head at the college level
Growing up, Kristin Larkins and Hadley Schmitt lived two blocks from each other in Forest Grove.
On summer afternoons, they would ride their bikes to each others' houses and play in the back yard. Sometimes the girls would pick up a ball and throw it around or take turns swatting the sphere with a bat. Those were relatively care-free days for the two best friends. No hyper-regimented softball practices, daily trips to the batting cage or the crushing weight of local fame and high expectations. It was just two buddies enjoying life in this quaint 'burb.
Never in a million years did the two imagine that some day they would square off against each other on a college softball diamond. But that day came on Saturday when Schmitt's Pacific Lutheran squad traveled to McMinnville for a pair of Northwest Conference games against Larkins and her Pacific teammates.
'After we both decided where we were going to college, I thought, 'OK, that will be interesting,'' said Larkins of the bi-annual softball meeting of the Lutes and Boxers. 'I talked with (Hadley's) dad about it. It was a big joke at our church.'
It may have been a laughing matter around town, but on the field it was no joke for Larkins, who enrolled at Pacific last fall after a standout career at Forest Grove High School, or for Schmitt, whose own superstar career at Gaston High School came to a close last spring.
The two young women still keep in touch and will have a good laugh over the memory of Saturday's game once the season is over. But in between the white lines, it was all business.
'It was really weird,' Larkins said of digging into the batter's box against her childhood friend in the second inning of Saturday's game. 'I tried to pretend like she was just another pitcher.'
Schmitt, for her part, was excited about the opportunity to pitch to Larkins for the first time since a light-hearted AAU practice game five years ago.
'It was a lot of fun,' said Schmitt. 'I've always wanted to pitch to her because she's such a good hitter. I was really looking forward to it.'
The numerous friends, family and ex-teammates of the duo watched Schmitt strike out Larkins on seven pitches in her first at-bat. Larkins would lay down a textbook sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning and draw a two-out walk in the fifth.
Schmitt, meanwhile, pitched six innings and struck out three, but took a hard-luck loss when the Boxers swatted a pair of two-run homers in the fifth.
Despite that second-inning strikeout, Schmitt won't have all the bragging rights this off- season. The two teams meet again today for a doubleheader in Tacoma. Schmitt will likely pitch the first game for PLU and Larkins will likely bat fifth and start at first base for Pacific.
'I'm pretty excited about it,' said Schmitt by phone on Tuesday morning. 'The first time was a lot of fun.'
Larkins has something other than fun on her mind.
'Hopefully I'll get a hit against her,' laughed Larkins, whose official line on Saturday was 0-for-1. 'I do need to get some revenge.'