One of the many lessons that South Range senior Carly DeRose has learned on softball diamonds is that facing the best can be a great teacher.

Take trying to hit off Poland’s Erin Gabriel and Champion’s Lindsay Swipas, the 2012 graduates who pitched their teams to state championships.

“Erin is probably the best pitcher I’ve faced,” said DeRose of the University of Tennessee pitcher. “I remember stepping into the box and she threw that first ball and I just looked at it — wow! I’m going to really have to adjust.

“And Lindsay, she’s great at moving the ball. Playing against them helped me, taught me how to have fast hands.”

Competition was a major theme for the Inter Tri-County League Tier One champions this season. The Raiders began the season playing top-caliber teams at a Myrtle Beach, S.C., tournament.

“It helped so much — the teams we played [already] had 15 games played. They were tough teams — one was a fifth-year prep school.”

Back home, DeRose’s arm and bat skills helped the Raiders go 25-3.

DeRose (17-2) shared pitching responsibilities with Darrian Yanek.

“I like pitching more,” said the four-year letterwinner who also played third base. “The thing that is different is that you feel like you are in control of the game. You set the pace.”

DeRose will study secondary education and play softball at Slippery Rock.

“They have an excellent education department,” she said. “I was going to go there regardless of if I played softball or not. I hope to be a high school mathematics teacher.”

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