While in St. Louis for the 2015 St. Louis Showcase, we had the pleasure of meeting Bella Crow, 16 year old pitcher for Iowa Premier Fastpitch Gold. We enjoyed plenty of laughs together and learned about what drives Bella to pursue softball excellence firsthand from her, her family, and her partner behind the dish.
R: What is your name?
B: Anna Bella Crow
R: Do you have any nicknames?
B: I go by Bella, but my team calls me “BC” or “B”.
R: What number are you?
B: 49! I am usually 9 or 19, but when my team asked me what number I wanted, they asked me to choose between 30 and 60, so it was either 39, 49, or 59. So I could have the 9 in it!
R: That’s fun! And how old are you?
B: I am 16 right now and will be 17 in November.
R: And what school do you go to?
B: Urbandale High School. I play softball for them too, but in Iowa, school ball is in the summer. So then I play Spring, Fall, and some winter with IPF (Iowa Premier Fastpitch).
R: How long have you played with Iowa Premier?
B: This would be my second Fall with them, so 2 years now.
R: How long have you played softball?
B: Since I was about 9, so 5th grade! My parents started me out and I did little camps with high schoolers that would teach me how to pitch and stuff. I liked it a lot and stuck with it and it ended up being something that I really enjoyed.
R: What position(s) do you play?
B: I pitch and play first base and some outfield. I have been really getting into outfield this year with my high school team. They let me play a lot in the outfield, so it’s been a lot of fun.
R: What do you like to do outside of softball?
B: I go to school, I like to read, go out with my friends.
R: What is your mentality on the mound? Is it something that you’ve needed to work hard at?
B: When I was younger it was really hard because I kind of got down on myself sometimes about little mistakes that I would make. But as I have gotten older, I have realized that if I stay confident on the mound and know that I am going to do better on the next batter, it gives me a chance to make up for my mistakes. If I can do that I won’t be in my head as much. So I try to stay relaxed as much as I can.
R: Do you ever struggle with pitching slumps?
B: Yeah, sometimes. I kind of just take a big breath, ask my coaches what’s going on and try to get some good pointers. What I have learned over the years is that if I don’t think about it as much, it just kind of comes to me instead of if I overthink and all of these thoughts are jumbled in my brain. That kind of tightens me up. So if I don’t think about it and relax, it goes much better.
R: What does your pre game look like? Do you listen to music or perhaps visualize?
B: Well, sometimes I listen to music. But it’s really just visualizing and getting ready for the game. Taking deep breaths and going through each pitch.
R: I know that when pitchers reach about your age, they come to the cross roads of deciding to continue to work on hitting or not. Is that something that you are still working on?
B: Yeah, I like to work hard on hitting because I think it’s a fun aspect of the game instead of just pitching. I like to bring something that isn’t just pitching to the team. I like to bring other aspects and help out the team the best I can.
R: What’s something on your bucket list?
B: Skydiving! And Bungee Jumping!
R: Well, I don’t think I would be going with you! (laughs)
B: (Laughs) That’s funny! Well I know that I will NEVER swim with sharks (laughs). If I had a negative bucket list, that would be on it!
R: Any favorite tournament or pre game snacks?
B: Peanut butter with banana. I like to stay healthy…power bars too. But if I am going unhealthy, then I like Snickers. You know when you feel drained during the day? A good candy bar makes it better. I like to go to Snickers. (laughs)
R: Who do you look up to on the College and Professional level?
B: Tori Finucane. I like watching her pitch because she was a freshman and she got to pitch. She has great movement on the ball and I think that is really cool to see.
R: What are your go-to pitches?
B: I LOVE the rise ball. That is my favorite pitch because I have worked on it so much. Change-up has also gotten a lot better for me because that is such a hard pitch to throw I think.
R: How has your pitching style changed from when you first started?
B: I have definitely gotten more powerful with my fastball and any other pitch. Getting off the mound has been a lot better over the years. The mental game of it has improved a lot for me. And also, kind of mastering my pitches, because when I was younger, they’d be okay, but they weren’t where I wanted them to be. So I have worked on a lot of mechanical things. I think it all has gotten a lot better over the years.
R: That’s awesome! How important is your relationship with your catcher?
B: Really important, because I LOVE my catcher! She plays high school with me and we’ve known each other since my first club team. I have been with her through so much. She always catches me and I love catching with her because whenever I make a mistake she laughs at me, which makes me feel so much better. She kind of communicates with me if a pitch maybe wasn’t going well and will tell me to maybe keep it lower. She helps me out and I love her for that.
R: Do you have any advice for younger softball players?
B: Keep playing (laughs). We always need more softball players. Always keep your head up, you know? Because you can’t play softball when you’re sad, it just doesn’t work because then you just keep getting more angry and angry.
R: And last question! Why do you choose Ringor?
B: The Diamond Bandit Spike has been the longest lasting shoe I have ever had! I used to always get holes in my shoes from dragging, but the pitching toe is amazing. These shoes have lasted for almost a year now and they have been so good to me!
After talking and getting to know Bella, we caught up with her mother Michelle and Grandmother Anne to learn more about why she loves softball and what drives her to play.
R: Tell me a little bit about Bella.
Michelle/Mom: She’s actually a quite funny child. She’s an excellent student and I really don’t ever have to worry about her. She is very responsible, but likes to laugh and be funny. You wouldn’t expect that from her, you know?
R: It sounds like you guys are proud of her!
Anne/Grandma: I am very proud of her. She’s just fantastic. You know, I walk with this (holds up her cane) and she is right there helping me. She is always there. I am very blessed to have such a wonderful and beautiful granddaughter.
R: Do you guys go to all of her games?
M: Well, my husband and I rotate because of our son. He is with him right now. He’s a goalie and Bella is a pitcher, so we’ve learned to mellow out through the years. (laughs)
R: That’s so funny. How do you think Bella has grown through softball?
M: Oh wow, from year to year she just gains more confidence. Confidence in herself and her pitching and her hitting. She’s become more relaxed because she knows she can do it.
A: She’s great to watch. She’s very fun to watch and does a great job.
R: As a pitcher, does she keep more of a serious face out on the mound, or will she crack a smile?
M: She’s pretty straight-faced. But then her and her catcher have a really good relationship, so they will usually smile at each other. She does a good job and can tell when Bella is getting frustrated and knows how to make her smile and say, “C’mon, it’s just a game.”
R: That’s great that she has a great catcher like that! How do you think softball has impacted her life? Do you think she would be who she is today without it?
M: I think it has made her more outgoing and able to do things like this. She has more confidence in herself. Being out on the mound and being a pitcher, all of the eyes are on you and she handles that really well.
R: Were you nervous when she first came to you and told you she wanted to be a pitcher?
M: Yeah! (laughs)At first I was like, “Really? It takes extra time and extra practice…” But she kind of just had a natural talent for it.
R: Well, is there anything else that you guys would like to add about Bella?
A: We are very proud of her and love her so much!
Lastly, we got an inside look at Bella and who she is on the mound through the eyes of her catcher Yoder.
R: Tell me about your relationship with Bella.
Yoder: Well, I have been playing with her since about 12U, and so we are just sort of best friends. She is a grade older than me though, but we’ve playing on every single team together.
R: How do you like catching her?
Y: I like catching her. I’ve caught her so long and I know her so well that I just know how her ball moves. She always has me catch her during practice and during lessons.
R: Are you able to communicate without even talking?
Y: We like read each other’s minds.
R: How have you seen her grow as a pitcher?
Y: Ummm, I just remember when I first caught her, it was just kind of like… I don’t know. She was just so young and she really didn’t have the movement. But then as she got older, her rise ball, OH MY GOSH, it’s deadly! So just watching her get older and seeing her pitches develop has been great.
R: Is her rise your favorite pitch to catch?
Y: Umm, I would say so. Either that or change-up. Her change-up is pretty good (laughs).
R: Is there anything else you would like to add about Bella?
Y: She’s so great and I love her!
It was a pleasure meeting Bella and learning about where life is going to take her next. Here at Ringor, we are very honored to have her proudly wearing our shoes. Check in to our Inside The Cleats Blog during the next two weeks to learn who our next featured up and coming softball player is. It could be YOU!