Softball season is still a few months away and she hadn’t pitched a ball since the fall but you’d never know it watching Corina McClure throwing heaters in the indoor cage.
Each pitch she unleashed at the glove of Jared Potskin seemed to have vapour trails attached and the snap of the ball tenderizing that soft leather pocket echoed off the walls.
The word is out on the 17-year-old McClure, a multi-sport athlete who also plays competitive volleyball, and her pitching arm peaked the interest of several teams in the Lower Mainland that hoped to lock up her service as a weekend player available to play for them in tournaments.
She’s looking forward to being that fly-in player starting in April when she joins the Cloverdale Fury under-19 team. Until then, McClure plans to get busy the next couple months working out with Jared and his brother Nick Potskin, a shortstop in his second year with senior men’s national team program, so she can hit the ground running as soon as she gets her chance to return to the outdoor diamonds.
“I’ve learned a lot of things from them, mechanics especially, things I can do on my own to help myself, and a lot of leadership qualities and things I can push for,” said McClure.
McClure grew up playing in the Prince George Minor Girls’ Softball League and in the Thunderbirds rep team program. This season, she’s helping coach the U15 Thunderbirds team. She’d seen her uncle, Colin Case, play slo-pitch, and he taught her the basics and she started playing house league ball when she was nine. McClure will never forget the day she asked her coach if she could pitch. It was her first season and it happened in a tournament in Quesnel.
“It was an open inning and we were leading 2-0 and I pitched and we lost 22-2,” she said. “I let in all 22 runs but somehow, I still wanted to pitch. My mom looked at me after the game and she was proud of me. I didn’t think anything of it because I thought, this is my first time pitching, I did great. I still pitch today, so it’s OK.”
McClure’s abilities as a chucker skyrocketed after she attended pitching clinics put on by Jackie Desilets, Softball BC’s Vancouver-based program director, and she plans to continue working with her.
McClure is in her Grade 12 year at Shas Ti Kelly Road Secondary School. In December, she wrapped up her high school volleyball career when the Grizzlies hosted the North Central zone championship and lost in the final to the D.P. Todd Trojans. She’s now playing club volleyball as a power hitter for the Prince George Kodiaks U-17/18 team.
Until her Grade 10 year, McClure also competed in high school wrestling, alongside her one-year older sister Kinsley. Kinsley was once fourth-ranked in Canada in wrestling but broke her collarbone, and that incident was enough to convince Corina to stop wrestling and focus more on softball.
Competitions were limited last summer because of the pandemic but she did play for the Little Chiefs in the John Cho Cup native fastball tournament at Spruce City Stadium and was selected as the top pitcher in the women’s division. McClure spent a lot of time on the field with coach Dave Cake and also played a few games last year in the Spruce City Men’s Fastball Association. She had hoped to be available to play for the Thunderbirds U-18 team this year but that won’t be allowed once she’s registered with her team in Cloverdale.
McClure, an A-B student, plans to study kinesiology and is trying to work out details of scholarship arrangement at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Mo. The Griffins softball team at Fontbonne has advanced to the NCAA tournament nine times since 2002.
Along with the rest of the local sporting community, McClure was stunned to learn of the death of national women’s baseball pitcher Amanda Asay, who died Jan. 7 in a skiing accident near Nelson. Asay’s rise through the ranks as she developed her game at the Little League/Babe Ruth parks of Prince George to become Canada’s senior pitching ace and top hitter is a crowning example of a career path McClure would love to emulate.
“She inspires me a lot, actually,” said McClure.
“Just to know that she came from here, that there’s hope, that she can be someone amazing like that.”