Kendall McCoy thinks she has a good idea what hitters in the opposing dugout are discussing when they see her step into the center circle.
At 5-foot-1 and sporting a baby face, she looks more like she could be in junior high than an actual junior.
“I don't think people think I can do much because I look younger and am shorter,” McCoy said. "I'm not tall at all."
No matter, coach Jimmy Nimmo has confidence in McCoy taking over one of the more high-profile positions in SWMO as Ozark’s No. 1 pitcher.
Nimmo has seen another mighty mite, 2018 Ozark grad Brooke Pridgen, shine as an under-sized pitcher. Pridgen was an All-COC First-Team selection in 2017 while leading the Lady Tigers to 21 wins and a District championship.
“Kendall is very comparable to Brooke,” Nimmo said. “Brooke had a really good changeup and curveball and could spot her pitches. Brooke didn't throw as hard as Kendall. If Brooke had anything on Kendall, it was her command of the zone. But in terms of how she spins it and how effective her changeup can be, Kendall has got that same type of potential. A lot of hitters will be completely surprised at what they see coming from her.”
McCoy proved herself at the junior-varsity level the past two years, helping Ozark to records of 15-0-1 and 17-2-1. In junior high ball, her seventh- and eighth-grade teams lost just one game.
She received one varsity start last year while backing up COC Player Of The Year Jordyn Foley.
Although Foley is nearly a foot taller than McCoy, they share similarities in their off-speed pitches.
“The spin on their pitches, I’d say is about the same, other than Jordyn having a couple more pitches,” catcher Natalie Morgan said. “The pitches Kendall does have, she spins very well.”
“There is so much spin and movement on Kendall’s ball,” center fielder Audrey Carlton said. “It can be very hard to hit. It messes with your eyes. You think it's going to be right down the middle and then it moves and you miss it. I'm very confident in her. She's going to do great.”
Foley has an arsenal of pitches that include a fast ball, rise ball, curve ball, drop ball, changeup and screw ball. Her rise ball and screw ball led Ozark to a District title last season. McCoy’s go-to pitch is her changeup and she also can throw a fast ball, curve ball and drop ball.
“I like being able to throw my fastball and drop ball for strikes and then also having my changeup that I can throw for a strike,” McCoy said. “My drop ball, if it doesn't drop, it will curve and my fast ball will curve sometimes, too. My changeup is probably my best pitch when it's working well.”
“Kendall has been throwing a lot in scrimmages against our varsity hitters and you can see that she can be very effective,” Nimmo siad. “She controls the zone well and spins the ball well. The big thing with Kendall is going to be the confidence side because she has not had very many varsity innings. If she has confidence stepping on the rubber, she's going to get the job done. I think she'll be ready.”
McCoy could thrive by utilizing a pitch-to-contact philosophy. She’ll have the benefit of throwing to Morgan and having a handful of returning starters behind her in Ozark’s infield and outfield.
“I think we're going to have a really good infield and outfield,” McCoy said. “That makes me feel good, having good backup behind me because I'm not going to be a super strikeout pitcher.”
When Ozark and Nixa face off, McCoy will be matched up against many of her travel ball teammates from Tenacity.
“Most of their varsity were my teammates in the summer,” McCoy said. “I think it's going to be helpful for me because I know what they can hit and what they can’t."