Some people might look at Fort Mill High freshman Bella Roy, who stands 5-feet-2-inches tall, and not see a powerhouse.
Once Roy steps onto a softball field and into the pitching circle, however, the “Little Giant” takes over.
Roy has been playing varsity softball for the past two years, and earlier this season broke the school’s career strikeout record. She is 9-6 this season with a 1.49 ERA and 175 strikeouts to just 32 walks through last week’s games.
Roy plowed past the school’s record of 268 career strikeouts and pushed her total to 294 heading into this week.
Roy helped Fort Mill reach the playoffs with an 8-4 Region 3 record after last week. Her pitching has been so dominant, she already has caught the attention of college scouts, despite being only a ninth-grader.
What makes a “Little Giant,” as her teammates call her, so overpowering with a softball?
“I was always told that someone of my size would not be able to do it,” Roy said.
“It just kept me humble to hear that. It didn’t make me mad; I just wanted to show my success through actions and not words.”
Roy began playing softball at 8 years old but didn’t start pitching until two years later. Her family moved to Fort Mill from the Columbia area when she was in sixth grade, and she played softball for a season at Banks Trail Middle School. It was there that Roy caught the eye of PE teacher Carri Moore, who now is in her first year as an assistant with the Winthrop University softball team.
Moore became Roy’s personal pitching coach.
“I am very appreciative of the help I have had from my pitching coaches,” Roy said.
Fort Mill head softball coach Chuck Stegall said he was not sure of Roy’s pitching when he saw how small she was, but soon became a believer. Stegall said Roy is “85 pounds of attitude” when it comes to pitching.
“She has the heart of a giant,” he said, “and she works her tail off.”
Roy said that when she pitches, she is able to shut her mind off to everything else.
“When I am on the mound, I don’t think of anything,” she said. “I just think of what I need to do with the next pitch.
“I like being in a main position. I like being in control.”
Roy has helped lead Fort Mill to a 15-6 regular-season record this season and a playoff berth.
In her most recent game, she struck out 16 and walked just two in throwing a complete game four-hitter. She is averaging a dozen strikeouts a game.
The Little Giant gives a lot of credit for her success not only to her coaches but her battery mate, freshman catcher Lauren Collie, as well.
“I have never felt more comfortable with a catcher,” Roy said.
Collie has been catching Roy the past two years. The two also are teammates on the Carolina Elite travel softball team.
“With her catching, it makes me feel comfortable,” Roy said. “If I am off, she knows how to calm me down.”
Roy has a arsenal of five pitches to choose from. While her fastball is in the mid-50s, Stegall said, it’s her other pitches that keep hitters confused.
“She constantly works on her breaking ball,” he said.
“Her speedball isn’t overpowering, she just breaks the ball around you.”