The senior right-hander led the Red Devilettes to a 21-11 record this year, going 16-4 herself with a 1.70 E.R.A., 109 strikeouts to only 28 walks in 107 innings of work as she earned Times-Georgian All-Area Pitcher of the Year honors for the second time during her illustrious prep career.
It was a process that began four years ago and culminated in the 2012 season.
“We started real slow with Trinity on the mound, and that’s to be understandable. She pitched as a freshman and she wasn’t near as good as a freshman as she was a senior. You expect them to do that. For the past couple years, she’s been the heart and soul of this team. As Trinity goes, we go,” Bowdon coach Ralph Sanders said.
It wasn’t just what Strickland did in the circle, though. As the leadoff hitter, she hit .462 with 11 doubles, a triple, four home runs and 19 RBI.
“If Trinity goes up there and gets a leadoff base hit, then everybody seems like they’re hitting. If Trinity strikes out, we all seem to have trouble hitting whoever it is. Things have just flowed and centered around her and what she’s done for the team. It’s going to be real hard to replace her, as far as what she’s done for us at Bowdon and what she’s done for Bowdon softball,” Sanders said.
But without her work in the circle, the Red Devilettes might not have brought home their first region championship since 2003. Bowdon won both the regular-season title, going a perfect 8-0, and also won the Region 5-AA Tournament. In those 10 overall region games, they had to face Heard County twice. The Lady Braves averaged over eight runs a game, but not against Strickland.
Strickland shut down Heard County twice — once during the regular season and again in the region championship game.
“If you just look at Heard County’s batting average and runs scored against other teams, Trinity’s had their number,” Sanders said. “They can’t hit Trinity. What I found over four years with Trinity, the bigger the game, the more effort you’re going to get out of that young lady. On the mound getting pitches to spin and being the bulldog. She loves that pressure. Some kids shy away from that pressure, she thrives on it,” Sanders said.
The hope was that region title would lead to bigger things for the Red Devilettes in their first year competing in Class AA. That didn’t happen with a 2-1 series loss against Washington-Wilkes in the first round, but there was still plenty to celebrate in Bowdon.
“It does. It meant a lot to me. When we won the region championship, it was a sign that we would go further than we did,” Strickland said. “It was fun. I was hoping I would get a state championship, but everything happens for a reason.”
For Strickland, she tries to keep it simple. If opposing players don’t get on base, then they can’t score. If they can’t score, then they can’t win.
“I always try to not let them get on base. That’s what my coaches always taught me. You have one job, don’t let them touch that base. That’s what I always try to think of,” Strickland said.
And what’s next for the Bowdon star? A trip down the road to the University of West Georgia, where she just might follow the lead of another Carroll County star in Nicole Yancey, who was a stellar prep pitcher in her own right, but looked to hit more in college.
“Trinity and I have talked, I don’t know if she wants to [exclusively] pitch at the next level. She wants to hit, she wants to play outfield. And in college, they sometimes won’t let you hit if you say you’re a pitcher. She may do some pitching just like [Nicole] Yancey does now [at West Georgia],” Sanders said. “Will Trinity pitch on the college level? Yeah. Can she pitch on the college level? I believe she can. But she wants to go out and swing the bat every day.”
If it’s not an either-or situation, then expect Strickland to be hurling and hitting down the road.
“I’m looking forward to it. I plan on going to West Georgia and I do want to pitch. If I don’t pitch, I want to be in the outfield, in the lineup hitting,” Strickland said.