Abby Buckman has been a rock for Lone Tree softball over the past four years, racking up strikeouts and breaking the school record for career strikeouts this past week.
The record, previously at 401 by current Lone Tree assistant coach Mackenzie Cover, was smashed by Buckman with a 12-strikeout performance in a 5-4 win over Columbus on June 10.
“I’ve been working toward the goal ever since I was in eighth grade, and now that I know I’ve broken it, I can get to 500 (strikeouts) too,” Buckman said.
She currently has 419 strikeouts and this year has her highest strikeout rate, getting one strikeout for every 3.25 batters faced. Over her career at Lone Tree that number has been one-in-four.
She earned seven starts in the circle as an eighth-grader before essentially being the full-time pitcher for the Lady Lions. She has started 52 games so far and her strikeout ability has only grown over those starts.
“I’ve definitely learned which pitches to throw in which counts and where I just need to trust myself,” Buckman said. “Now I can work with every single type of pitch to get that strikeout.”
When she needs to sit a batter down with a strikeout, Buckman often goes to her curve or rise ball. She said those are the toughest of hers for opposing batters to hit.
“Just getting them off-balance (is key), those are the pitches that I throw harder too so I just attack them from the get-go,” Buckman said.
Lone Tree is currently 6-9 this season and Buckman has a 2.46 ERA. This season Buckman has been able to rest her arm more than others, with freshmen Kinley Hayes and Arlie Lorack pitching some games for the Lady Lions.
Her single game record is 16 strikeouts, which she set in a 4-0 loss to Winfield-Mount Union earlier this season.
With one and a half years remaining in her high school career, 500 strikeouts is the next target for Buckman.