When the Lutes’ ace scans her defense and climbs back to the top of the mound, she has the mentality of “I’m the Best.” The personal motto scrolls through her thoughts like a digital billboard. This simple repetition is how she became the pitcher she is today.
Before Leah Butters came to Pacific Lutheran University, she mowed down batting rotations at Cleveland High School in Portland, Ore.
During her first year at PLU, Butters had to learn a new style of pitching. The development of her style started in middle school and eventually changed as she entered into her college career.
She went on to become the 5A Portland Interscholastic League (PIL) pitcher of the year three times in a row, but her team never advanced past the second round of the playoffs for numerous reasons.
The Portland product chose to become a Lute because of “the academics, the people, and it is the perfect distance from home,” Butters said.
“PLU was close enough that my parents can still watch me continue my career,” Butters said.
In her first season at PLU, Butters was an addition to a 2012 team that already had seasoned veterans. The pitching staff included All-American Stacy Hagenson, the perfect mentor for an aspiring pitcher.
Butters contributed in the regular season, but as playoffs approached, she was a supporter from the dugout.
Unlike some teams, the Lutes knew the role everyone had; each player knew how important it was to do her job to the best of her ability. This attitude is what won Pacific Lutheran softball a National Championship in 2012.
“It was overwhelming and amazing to be part of that team,” Butters said with a grin on her face.
Although that historic run was three years ago, Butters still remembers the lessons passed down to her from the seniors in 2012.
“Every pitch matters, every batter is legitimate, just take it one pitch at a time and remain mentally tough, no matter the circumstances,” Butters said.
As a senior, Butters now has the power to influence the rest of the players. Her message is simple, but reflective of a senior who has matured over the previous three seasons.
“Enjoy each season, and more specifically each game. I wish I would have treasured everything,” Butters said. “Winning is great, but also it is important to have fun. At the Division III level, we are playing for the love of the game.” ◼︎