Maybe it’s her game face that intimidates batters. Maybe it’s her fastball. Maybe it’s what her coach calls “a combination of physical ability and mental toughness.” Whatever the reason, pitcher Kristin Amram has shattered the Saint Mary’s softball program’s season record for strikeouts. She is close to breaking the career record—and she’s only finished her sophomore year.
As a freshman, Amram struck out a whopping 201 batters in 22 appearances on the mound. “To come back for a great sophomore year after an amazing freshman year is hard,” says coach Erin Sullivan, “but she did it.” Amram ended her sophomore season with 167 strikeouts and an impressive 1.48 ERA. In seven of 17 games she started, she held the opposing team to two hits or less.
Amram is not an overnight sensation. She started playing softball at the age of seven, following an inner calling to become a pitcher. “That was the thing that lit my fire,” she says. “There’s something about being in control and having a lot of pressure on me at the same time—I love doing it for myself and for a team.”
When she got older, Amram would practice pitching in a horse barn near her family’s Crete, Illinois home—sometimes in freezing weather. Her father encouraged that work ethic, saying, “Someone else is practicing too, right now. You’ve got to get better than her.”
Amram applies equal intensity to her efforts as a biology major at Saint Mary’s. “I want to keep my GPA as high as possible and get into the best dental school I can,” she says. Her biology professors have cheered her on at games and supported her in the classroom. “Math professors come out for math majors, too. That’s how it is at Saint Mary’s.”
With teammates Sarah Miesle and Ashley Peterson, Amram was just named to the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association all-region team. She has earned other honors, yet claims it’s her teammates and the atmosphere of Division III athletics that keep her throwing heat. “All the athletes are here because they want to be here, not because anyone’s telling them they have to play softball.”
The Belles wrapped up this season with a 25-9 record, but Amram says the best is yet to come. “Every year we’re going to get better than the year before. I really don’t think anything is too far out of reach for us.”