Erin Caviness may have been a timid freshman four years ago, but by the time her senior softball season came around, the Holy Family pitcher literally craved the opportunity to compete at the highest possible level.
When it came to the time for the Tigers to really prove their growth as a team, they rallied around their ace and her desire to bring home the ultimate prize.
On the verge of being ruthless in her approach, Caviness delivered on every level through the season and even more so during the regional and state tournaments, and for her extraordinary efforts in the state title run for HFHS, Caviness has been named the 2018 BoCoPreps.com player of the year.
"For the most part I would say that I really wanted to be put in that situation with the rest of my team," Caviness said recently, still relishing in the fact the Tigers captured their first 4A team title in October. "Being my senior year, I just wanted to go out and play and leave everything out on the field because we just didn't have another chance. But it was definitely a whole team effort."
Indeed, the rise to prominence from their initial seasons in the upper classification took some maturing by several players to the point where they could compete for the elusive Tri-Valley League title this year. But for Caviness, the numbers suggested she had done a lot of work to improve control — perhaps learning, too, about what she could or couldn't do with a knee issue that ultimately was discovered as a partially torn ACL.
Using a brace on her right knee, she managed to build her strength and utilize many of the same pitches she's enforced for years — albeit with just a bit more 'mmmph'. In 130 innings this season, Caviness struck out 177 batters and walked just 38, a ratio far better than in 2017 when she walked 58 in 91 innings.
Pounding the strike zone would typically figure into more hits and more runs allowed with the type of schedule Holy Family plays, but Caviness kept her earned-run average at 1.98 for the season, too.
And, when it mattered most, she was locked in. During six regional tournament and state tournament games, her ERA was 1.34 and she had a 44-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. She held two of the state's toughest lineups, Silver Creek and Mountain View, to one and three runs, respectively, in the final two rounds of the tournament. She also hit .556 with 11 RBIs — her offense almost an afterthought with what she accomplished hurling the softball into Abby Edwards' glove for every single inning of the postseason run.
"Throughout the whole tournament, I wasn't thinking about the end product or where we could be," Caviness said. "I was trying to stay in the moment, take one pitch at a time and just make the most out of the opportunities we were given. And just have a good time, enjoy it mostly.
"Coming up against a big Silver Creek team, with a great lineup and a great pitcher, we went in knowing it wasn't going to be easy. We needed to find a way to make the little things work to our advantage."
Part of that was the bond they had created through the season, which in turn Caviness said was her favorite part of the whole deal. Harking back to her timid side, Caviness said one of the biggest things toward her success was wanting to play for those who surrounded her.
It paid off in gold.