Every so often, Abbey Pratt unknowingly inserts a “y’all” into conversation.
Call it a byproduct of living in the south most of the past 18 months.
“I have picked up ‘y’all’. My best friend actually pointed it out to me when I came home last summer,” said Pratt, a former Center Grove softball player now pitching for the University of Montevallo in Alabama.
“With some words I now have a little bit of a southern twang.”
Montevallo, a Division II school 35 miles south of Birmingham, is in its third season of softball.
Pratt, a right-hander who helped lead the Trojans to the Class 4A state title in 2015, already is being viewed as one of the program’s sturdier building blocks.
“It is a coach’s dream to have a kid like Abbey,” Falcons head coach Lindsay Vanover said. “She is more of the go-to pitcher for us, and the defense is very comfortable playing behind her.
“Abbey is the perfect fit for our program. It’s been great for us to have a true starter out there.”
Montevallo brings a 10-9 record into this afternoon’s home game against Birmingham-Southern College. This is a noticeable step in the right direction after the team finished a combined 40-69 in its first two seasons.
Pratt, a speech language pathology major who carries a 3.9 grade-point average, usually pitches the first game of doubleheaders, with senior Jocelyn Rivera starting the second.
This season Pratt is 5-4 on the hill after picking up a pair of wins — one as a starter, the other in relief — in a weekend road sweep of Georgia Southwestern.
She’s pitched 74 1/3 innings this season with 39 strikeouts.
“Abbey’s record, unfortunately, doesn’t do her justice,” Vanover said. “She has been the workhorse for us but doesn’t get all of the credit.”
Pratt is capable of working in curveballs, knucklers, screwballs and risers around a fastball clocked between 58 and 61 miles per hour. Used mainly in middle relief as a Montevallo freshman, she’s content being part of a softball program that has its best years ahead of it.
“We lost seven or eight seniors from last year, but we have some freshmen who are playing every game,” Pratt said. “I think we’re a lot closer team than we were last season.
“Coming down here was definitely different. It’s almost an eight-hour drive. Overall, I enjoy it here a lot.”