Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.





The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

By Bethany Bradsher

Decorated senior Paisley still making her mark

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

When Toni Paisley has played her last softball game as a Pirate, she might just sit down on the pitcher’s mound and refuse to leave.

“I might just have a breakdown after that last game,” she said.

Certainly, the feeling is mutual. Paisley will hang up her East Carolina jersey as the most accomplished pitcher in East Carolina history. Her 112 career wins make her 27th on the NCAA all-time record list, and the Lady Pirates still have six more regular season games and the Conference USA Tournament, which they will host at their new stadium.

There have been times during Paisley’s ECU career that it seemed like a new honor was showered on her every week. Some notable career accolades:

   She holds all but one of ECU’s career pitching records — pitching wins, careers, shutouts, pitching appearances and complete games.  Her 1,205 career strikeouts are 247 more than the previous record-holder, Keli Harrell, and 710 more than the pitcher in the third spot.

   Paisley’s name is nearly as ubiquitous in the Conference USA record books as in ECU’s. She holds C-USA career records for strikeouts, wins, innings pitched and appearances.

   She won the Conference USA Pitcher of the Year Award in both 2009 and 2010 and was named the C-USA Preseason Pitcher of the Year this season.

•   She was named the 2010 C-USA Tournament Most Valuable Player for her 20-strikeout performance that led the Pirates to their first league title last spring.

   She has won the C-USA Pitcher of the Week Award 16 times in her career.

   In March, she was selected in the 10th round of the National Pro Fastpitch, making her the first Pirate to be drafted into a professional softball league.

Paisley is 26-8 this year, with 311 strikeouts, but her performances haven’t been as flashy as they were during her past two seasons.  When the season opened, Paisley was uncharacteristically stressed because she was allowing the reality of her senior season to weigh on her. She found her stride midseason, and in these final games she hopes to turn that pressure into a positive, she said.

“Instead of the beginning of the season when there was more negative stress on me, I’m trying to have more positive stress and use it just to push myself these last few weekends and lay it all out on the line,” she said.

Another reason Paisley’s pitching hasn’t been as dominating during her senior campaign is the sheer familiarity of her opponents, particularly within the conference. Some C-USA batters have faced Paisley and seen film of her so many times that they know how to hit pitches that once seemed out of reach, said head coach Tracey Kee.

"Toni has done a very good job of keeping us in ball games this year, especially in conference,” Kee said. “When you’re in your senior year and everybody knows everything you have, and they’ve seen you year after year after year, it’s a credit to herself on being able to hold down people’s offenses and put us in a position to win."

It’s been a little bit frustrating for Paisley when she feels like the other team’s offense has her number, but her win totals have remained steady because she has turned former strikeouts into opportunities for the Pirate defense to shine.

“It’s challenging, and I like challenges,” she said. “I really just try to focus more on spins then, and try to make a good movement pitch, and there’s my shortstop, there’s my second baseman.”

As one of only two seniors on a team mostly populated by freshman, Paisley has seen enough to know that this group is hitting its stride at the right time. They are 34-16 and 14-7 in the conference, and that success can be attributed to steady pitching and a group of freshmen who have grown into the college game quickly, Kee said.

“We needed the youth to step up and they have,” she said. “They’re playing vital positions on our team. We knew this season could have easily been spun around, 16-34 instead of 34-16. I don’t want to say we’ve overachieved; we knew the potential was there. It just was a matter of when would it show.”

With such a supporting cast, and with second pitcher Faith Sutton throwing better than she ever has as a Pirate, Paisley is poised for a strong finish. It will undoubtedly be emotional when she and fellow senior Sissy Jimenez are honored for Senior Day before their final regular-season home game against Houston.

Paisley just tries not to think about the feelings she’ll have when she steps off the mound after her final pitch.

“It hasn’t quite hit me yet,” she said. “I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but when it finally hits me it’s not going to be very pretty.”

E-mail Bethany Bradsher

Bethany Bradsher Archives

04/27/2011 02:40 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.