Bernie's Marcum continues assault on state record book
Editor’s note: The Semoball Awards will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 13, at the Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus in Cape Girardeau. Today the Statesman is featuring Bernie’s Alyson Marcum, who has been nominated for the softball award. Visit semoball.com and click on Semoball Awards for more information.
BERNIE — Bernie all-state softball pitcher Alyson Marcum grew up in a family of catchers, but she made her name on the pitcher’s mound.
“Both of my parents were catchers, and I was a pitcher,” Marcum said. “I remember going out in the yard, and (her mother Amy Marcum) would catch me and I would always throw it over the fence.”
Marcum has developed some control since then … and a lot of speed.
“She was always a little above average on speed, and then toward the end of her freshman year, it was almost like something just clicked,” her mother said. “I made up my mind then that I couldn’t catch her anymore.”
Marcum was clocked between 59 and 62 mph on the radar gun when Belmont University scouted her at the Mount Vernon game March 15 in Bernie. Female softball pitchers throw up to 70 miles per hour.
Speed isn’t everything for Marcum.
“You can throw it hard and get it by some people, but your spin is what will make it hard to hit,”she said. “Basically, I don’t look at speed as much. I look at how much my ball is moving, how much it’s dropping.”
The left-hander just completed a season where she compiled a 14-3 record with a 0.813 ERA. She struck out 192, while walking only 21, in 103 1/3 innings.
“Alyson's ability to locate three to four pitches wherever she wants them and to change speeds while still throwing strikes makes her a very difficult pitcher to face,” Bernie coach Brad Botsch said. “In addition to how hard she throws, hitters can't sit on what pitch is coming in any count because she is able to throw multiple pitches at any time. Most hitters have to sit fastball because of her speed, but she has a great arsenal of pitches that she can throw at any time in the count.”
Marcum, who has pitched multiple no-hitters, may be more feared as a hitter, though.
She holds the state record for single-season batting average (.750). She ranks second in on-base percentage (0.819), fifth in slugging percentage (1.447) and 10th in RBIs (55). All of those records are single-season marks set during her sophomore season.
She ranks third in the state for home runs in a game with three, which was set April 24, 2018, against Neelyville.
“Her swing fundamentals and the ability to use all fields makes her a tough out at the plate,” Botsch said. “She has a great swing and will not expand the zone to swing at bad pitches. Couple that with the velocity that she swings with and she's going to hit the ball very hard when contact is made. I think she's had one strikeout in two years. That's pretty impressive in itself.”
In her junior year, she broke the state record for walks drawn in a single season (39). Many of her walks were intentional.
“I don’t like it much,” Marcum said. “I do what I can for my team. If I can get on base, that always helps. I’d rather earn my way on than just get put on.”
She produced solid numbers offensively, despite limited at-bats. She batted .672 with seven doubles, six home runs and 42 RBIs.
Marcum, who is playing for the Prospects Elite team in Columbia this summer, committed June 19 to play softball for Florida SouthWestern State in Fort Myers, Florida.
The Buccaneers have produced the NJCAA Division I Softball Pitcher of the Year in 2016 (Courtney Getting) and 2019 (Kelsi Collins). 2016 was the program’s first season.
They were ranked No. 1 in the country for most of last season, finished 54-3 and won their fourth straight Suncoast Conference championship, going 19-1.
Marcum also received offers from Southeast Missouri State and Three Rivers College.
“I think Alyson can go as far as she wants in college,” Botsch said. “(Florida SouthWestern State has) ties to some big SEC schools. I think her ultimate goal is to make it to the big time Division I level. She has all the tools to get there and I wish her the best.”
Marcum has worked with several pitching coaches over the years. She started out with former Mizzou catcher Megan Christopher.
Doug Gillis, who is an assistant coach at Virginia Tech, worked with her next, followed by Donovan Nelson, who runs the Master’s Mound Softball Pitching School in Springfield.
“They teach a lot about snap and spin,” Marcum said. “When I’m at home, sometimes I get a ball and work on my snap because the harder the snap, the more spin you have.”
Marcum and the Lady Mules hope to not only repeat as district champions but advance in the state tournament. Scott City beat the Lady Mules 2-1 in the sectional round, dropping a pitcher’s dual to fellow all-state pitcher Kaileigh Dirden, who is a fan of Marcum’s.
“She’s amazing,” Dirden said after the state sectional playoff. “She’s the best pitcher I’ve seen all year, probably my whole life. I respect her (and) her work ethic and the way she carries herself.”
Marcum has individual goals to achieve as well. She wants to average two strikeouts per inning — she averaged 1.8 last season.
She wants to cut down on home runs allowed and continue to perfect her rise ball.
“It got a lot better last year but it can get even better,” she said.
Long road home
Marcum joined the Bernie team during her sophomore year. She had played at Aurora in the fall season of her freshman year and at a private school in Illinois during the spring season.
Before that, she had moved frequently because of her father Chuck’s career as a school administrator. He recently retired, which led her back to Bernie.
Bernie wasn’t new to her. She lived here during her second-grade and third-grade years. She began playing softball between her second- and third-grade seasons and started pitching near the end of her fourth-grade year.
Botsch was happy to have her on his team, and he knew she had the potential to be a special player.
“I could tell she was super talented and had put a lot of time into becoming a great player,” Botsch said. “With the mix of talent and hard work that she had put in, I knew she was going to be special.”