Carly Collins’ Delaware Tech softball career started with her appearing in just 14 games and pitching only six innings. It ended with her becoming the second-winningest pitcher in the program’s last 10 seasons and being named pitcher of the year for the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) Region 19.
“I’m proud of myself,” Collins said. “I never thought I’d get pitcher of the year, never thought I’d be part of a team that went to a national championship tournament once let alone three times, and I never would’ve thought I’d be where I am now.
“I have built a greater level of confidence in myself and in my skill.”
Collins came to Delaware Tech from Sussex Central High School. She began learning how to pitch when she was eight and pitched off and on for her Little League and travel ball teams. She got the chance to pitch regularly when she was in sixth grade and was a starting pitcher on her undefeated seventh and eighth grade teams.
“I liked being in control of each pitch,” Collins said. “I read batters and memorized where they hit it and where they stand in the box. I liked the mentality of trying to figure out where to throw to them, and I loved having the bond with my catchers.
“Pitching is a mental thing. It’s a lot of self-discipline and working until you perfect a pitch.”
After playing mostly in the outfield as a freshman and sophomore at Sussex Central, Collins pitched every game as a junior. She entered her senior year anticipating another season of being a starting pitcher, until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the season was cancelled.
Collins joined a Delaware Tech program that had a large pitching staff, which led to her pitching just six innings in her first season. Due to her first season falling during the COVID-19 pandemic, Collins was a member of the class of student-athletes that were granted an extra year of athletic eligibility.
She made the most of that extra year.
Collins returned as a sophomore and solidified her spot as the team’s #2 pitcher. She finished 2022 with a 12-1 record and a 1.84 ERA, the lowest earned run average in the region and one of the lowest in the country.
“I worked out a lot more in the off-season and I had played a lot of summer ball with my travel team,” Collins said. “My speed went up, I had improved my conditioning, and I had more reps with my pitching coach.
“There was a drive within me to be able to play since I thought it might be my last year. I wanted to be able to hit my spots enough to show I could pitch at a college level.”
After earning her associate degree in elementary education, Collins was accepted into the first cohort of the College’s new Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education program, which allowed her to use the additional year of athletic eligibility.
Collins entered 2023 as the team’s starting pitcher and never gave it up throughout the season. She went 14-4 with a 2.76 ERA and 98 strikeouts. In the NJCAA Region 19 tournament, Collins pitched two complete games in one day to put Delaware Tech into the championship game. Her 26 career wins makes her just the third Delaware Tech softball pitcher since 2013 to win 25 career games and makes her the second-winningest pitcher in that same timeframe.
“I wanted to perform well, and I wanted my teammates to trust me while I was in the circle,” Collins said. “I knew I had to do my job, my goal was just to zone in and focus on one batter at a time and pitch with a clear mind.”
Collins leaves Delaware Tech as a member of the three-time region and district championship teams, a one-time pitcher of the year, a two-time all-region selection, a three-time NJCAA All-Academic honoree, a two-time Eastern Pennsylvania Athletic Association All-Academic honoree, a recipient of the President’s Award in 2022, a three-time recipient of the Highest Team GPA Award, and the winner of the 2023 John C. Shew Award for the highest cumulative GPA of a second-year student-athlete.
“I’m really glad I came to Delaware Tech,” Collins said. “It was definitely the best decision I could’ve made. All three seasons we did really well, and it was a great experience overall.”
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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