The Orion

Nothing beats a pair of aces

Dylan Wakefield

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When it comes to poker, the best hand wins, and the Chico State softball team has two aces up its sleeves — Brooke Langeloh and Haley Gilham.

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First-year pitcher Haley Gilham launches the ball on Feb. 12 in a game against Hawaii-Hilo. In the 20 games she has pitched this season, Gilham has a record of 12-8. Photo credit: George Johnston

Haley Gilham — 1.89 ERA

  • 65 strikeouts (ranked No. 13 of 40 in conference for most strikeouts overall)
  • 35 walks
  • 109 hits allowed
  • 33 earned runs against
  • 478 at-bats
  • 12 wins, 8 losses
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Junior pitcher Brooke Langeloh winds up for a pitch on April 17 in a game against Humboldt State. Langeloh has wracked up 80 strikeouts this season, making her No. 8 in the conference for most strikeouts overall. Photo credit: Ryan Pressey

Brooke Langeloh 2.34 ERA

  • 90 strikeouts (ranked No. 8 of 40 in conference for most strikeouts overall)
  • 49 walks
  • 124 hits allowed
  • 42 earned runs against
  • 475 at-bats
  • 10 wins, 9 losses

As competitors and teammates, the dynamic duo uses the competitive edge to elevate their game to its highest level.

Coming into Chico State as a first-year player, Gilham focused on earning her stripes instead of being the star pitcher.

“I saw it as a little bit of a competition, showing that I can pitch too,” Gilham said.

During practice, Gilham and Langeloh run a lighthearted but serious workout to stoke their friendly competition. The two play a game in which they each have to throw through various counts and scenarios. The pitcher with the lowest amount of pitches thrown at the end of the workout wins.

Langeloh said being competitive with her other half makes her a better pitcher.

“If (Haley) is doing well in a certain area, I want to do well in that area too,” she said.

The inner drive between the pitching staff makes Chico State’s team one of the best in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

Langeloh and Gilham feed off of each other’s performances, said Angel Shamblin, the team’s head coach.

“They wouldn’t be playing at this level if they weren’t competitive people and willing to push each other and chat with each other and get better every day,” Shamblin said.

Just 3.1 innings differentiate Langeloh and Gilham’s time spent on the mound. Langeloh owns 125.2 innings this season while Gilham has capped 122.1 so far.

Together, both of them have combined for 247.3 innings out of 282 total innings played.

It is a luxury to have two pitchers who are interchangeable in skill level, Shamblin said.

“It gives us an opportunity to win every single game,” she said.

Because of the nature of college softball and the schedule of playing back-to-back doubleheaders on consecutive days, both Langeloh and Gilham start two games apiece.

“We try to work with each others’ strengths and weaknesses,” Langeloh said.

Friendly competition elevates their game to be the best in the conference. But at the end of the day, the two aces are cards from the same hand trying to contribute as much as they can to win the same games.

“When I’m on the mound, I’m not thinking I need to do better than (Brooke),” Gilham said. “I am thinking I need to do good for my team.”

Dylan Wakefield can be reached at [email protected] or @dylan_wakefield on Twitter.

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Nothing beats a pair of aces