Before games this season, Hadlie Henderson sits in a quiet locker room regulating her breathing and visualizing herself throwing pitches from the circle.
The College of Southern Idaho pitcher said it is the most important part of her pregame routine, especially since she developed into a successful hurler and moved into a starting role this season.
The 2017 Blackfoot High School graduate has been named Scenic West Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week twice this year. She is tied for the most wins in her conference with a 12-4 record, plus she has a team-best .310 opposing batting average and has CSI’s second-best ERA (4.53).
Henderson has exceeded even her own expectations.
Going into the season, the sophomore guessed she would spend another year as a reliever for the NJCAA Division I team, but a teammate suffered an injury and Henderson was the next one up. She has pitched the second-most innings on her team with 99.
Pitching is not a role she’s spent a lifetime dedicated to. She was more of an all-around softball player doing whatever she could to help, rather than a pitcher, when she was playing for Blackfoot, where she said she split her time between pitching and the infield.
She finished her high school career as a 2017 Journal All-Area first-team utility player.
“When I decided to sign to the College of Southern Idaho, I had no idea I was going to be pitching as much as I do now,” Henderson said. “I really enjoy it. I enjoy it more than I thought I would when they told me I would be pitching.”
Henderson is admittedly not a flamethrower, so she said her most reliable pitch is her changeup. Her goal going into every game is to set up gimme groundouts for her defense. After only having a changeup and dropball in high school, she has added a screwball, curveball and riseball to her arsenal.
“She’s just an intelligent kid, showing some softball savvy,” CSI coach Nick Baumert said. “She’s a kid that comes in and throws dropball, changeup and really keeps hitters off balance.”
Henderson has deployed her pitches masterfully during segments of the season. She allowed two earned runs and 12 hits over 12 innings during three consecutive wins over Colorado Northwestern at the end of March and was awarded her first conference pitcher of the week honor of the season.
She followed that up with a grander juncture in the first week of April, allowing one earned run and 12 hits over 17 1/3 innings and tallied a 4-0 record for CSI (28-20, 19-13 SWAC) before being named league pitcher of the week again.
When discussing her success, Henderson reverted back to her team, such as saying her team provided the security she needed behind her on defense. Her fellow pitchers also decided with her that all of them were not good enough in the early part of the season.
Nearly the entire pitching staff was rocked, including Henderson, in two consecutive losses on March 9 to league foe Salt Lake, which tallied 33 runs and 33 hits in those two games. Afterward, it was decided by the pitchers that morning practice sessions outside of practice were a must.
“We didn’t throw our best games those days,” Henderson said. ”After that, we were just kind of like, ‘You know what? We need to be better.’”
Notice what followed thereafter: Henderson established herself, showed she could be more than a relief pitcher and earned conference-wide recognition.
“She’s really stepped up, kind of had a leadership role within our pitching staff and done a really nice job and has had some good outings for us when we’ve really needed them,” Baumert said. “Whether she’s a reliever or starter, she’s going to come out and give you a great effort and has done a nice job.”