April 23, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - With just three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Boilermaker softball team is edging close to the 30-win mark, are currently among the Big Ten's top three and have lots still play for. The team wraps up home action with five games this week, including Cancer Awareness Day on Saturday and Senior Day on Sunday.
With all of this in mind, purduesports.com saw down with freshman pitcher Alex Whittemore to get her take on the season and learned what makes this Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., native tick, her family's personal connection with cancer and what life is like on the road with Purdue softball.
Let's start at the beginning, what was the most challenging part of fall for you?
I think just being away from home in general; learning to be responsible and taking care of things on my own, the little things that you don't really notice that your parents do for you. You need to do them on your own.
How was your transition from high school to college softball?
It is a lot different. It is definitely more intense and the girls are a lot better, so you need to be able to pick up and learn things fast and be able to keep up.
Jumping way ahead in the future, what do you hope to accomplish by the end of your senior year?
I would like to see myself being a dominating pitcher in the circle and getting all of my confidence back and doing what I know I can do. Hopefully my elbow is feeling a lot better by then so that I don't have to worry about that and I can just do what I want to do and have fun in the circle and dominate.
Although this season is nearly over, what were your goals for this year?
My goals for this year were just to be one of the starting pitchers and have an impact on the team in the circle. Obviously that hasn't really happened for me. My elbow has been kind of holding me back and that has caused me to lose some confidence and that isn't fun. Hopefully this summer I can get my elbow rested up, so it is not hurting me when I pitch.
At the beginning of this season, you were able to pitch quite a bit though?
That was good. That was fun. I loved that time.
Did you get nervous the first time you got to pitch in a college game?
I was very nervous. I was very excited. It was good. It was in New Mexico. I remember I was so excited. I've always gotten butterflies when I go out to pitch and I think I always will. Normally after the first inning they go away, but definitely before the first inning I have butterflies a little.
What do you feel like you bring to the team?
I feel like I am a good teammate. My teammates know that I am always there for them. They know that I will always support them and I hope that they always succeed and do well for our program. I think they they know that I always have their backs.
What the first road trip like for you? How do you feel about travelling at this point in the season?
That was so much fun. I just enjoyed every minute of it because it was all so new to me. I was just taking it all in and stuff. I was always so excited for the next one after that because as a team we just have fun together when we are playing. It's awesome. We all still totally have fun together and we get the job done too. We have done really well so far this season I think, so it is awesome that we can have fun together but yet get the job done.
What teams were/are you most excited to play this year?
I was most excited to play Oregon and BYU because I know girls that I played with who go there. So, I was excited to play them and see how it went. I am also excited to play Minnesota because I know a girl who I played with that goes there and they are good this year so that will be interesting.
What is your guilty pleasure: the TV show, book, food or song that you can't live without?
I eat a lot, so maybe just food in general. I love sweets and rice crispy treats, especially the ones they have at the dining courts. Those are so good.
What is on your iPod that would surprise your teammates?
I have a lot of reggae on my iPod, but nothing that would really surprise my teammates. It is just a lot of reggae. I do have a lot of popular songs and rock too.
What is the hardest thing about pitching? Throwing the perfect pitch, fielding whatever ball comes back at you, etc?
I am not worried about fielding a ball, I can practically do that in my sleep. It is more like making sure I hit my spots. Those are the little things that would probably seem so easy, but if you miss just an inch more on the plate than you are supposed to that is the difference between a hit and a routine ground ball. Just making sure that I hit those corners is probably what I think about the most.
Your family has gotten to see you play a few times even though you are from California. What has that been like? Do you hear them cheering for you?
I don't really hear anyone when they are cheering for me unless they say something super loud and absurd, but just knowing that they are there is a good feeling.
Who is your hero or someone that you look up to? What impact has that person had on you?
My parents have always been there for me and that is huge for me. My dad has always supported me in everything that I have done and the same with mom. And my mom, battling and beating her breast cancer, I thought that was amazing. She went through that and she was so strong, it was awesome.
Does your mom having beaten breast cancer make games like Saturday's cancer awareness game all the more special to you because of your personal connection?
Yes definitely. My mom will be there for that too, so that will be awesome. Days that like remind me of all the things that me and my family went through during that period and it just reminds me of how blessed I am that she is still here. She is doing awesome too; it's amazing.