Caitlin Ohnoutka has a unique pitching style.
Perhaps that is why the Raymond Central senior is sitting atop the state charts in strikeouts this season with 206.
Ohnoutka averages 10 strikeouts per game. In the Mustangs' win against Milford, she just missed the Class C strikeout record of 22 set by Wayne's Molly Hill in 2004. Ohnoutka also had a no-hitter against the Eagles.
"Her ball dances a lot. But she gets the batters to strike out, and a lot of them strike out swinging," Raymond Central coach Barb Ohnoutka said. Barb Ohnoutka is Caitlin's mother as well as her summer coach with the Val Sting.
Caitlin Ohnoutka, whose father, Kurt, and mother were both involved in softball well into their adult years, has been playing since she was 8. She started with the town team and attended clinics in Valparaiso.
Her pitching career set off when she competed in Lincoln at the age of 12 with the Lincoln Shockers. Many parents recommended pitching coach Jim Krause as someone who could help her excel.
She and her parents came down to look at the facility, which was in a garage-type setting in Krause's yard, and began working out on a regular basis. Krause has helped produce several top pitchers, including South Dakota's Paige Policky and Creighton's Becca Changstrom.
"I heard about the progress that Paige and Becca were making, and I knew that I could get to that point, too," Ohnoutka said. "But it never occurred to me that if I really worked that hard, I could get to that level. I thought I could, I just wasn't sure."
Ohnoutka relies on her catcher, Bryn Matulka, to call the pitches, and the two rarely have had a wild pitch or passed ball between them in two years together.
"Caitlin is a blessing to have on the team because she is so humble," Barb Ohnoutka said. "She knows her catcher will get the ball almost anywhere and has confidence in her with every pitch call.
"Bryn only catches for Caitlin during the school year, but both she and Caitlin are a natural talent and work well together."
Caitlin Ohnoutka, who has a 1.62 ERA, is humble about her performance in the circle.
"I've tried to develop my hitting rather that just focus on pitching. I try not to think about (the number of strikeouts she has)," she said. "I try to just think of the batter at hand. I try not to get to focused on records and things."
Ohnoutka played for the Nebraska Swingers during the club season, a team coached by Krause. During the summer, she had shoulder tendonitis and stayed out most of the season so she could play her final season of high school ball.
And she was looking forward to her final season of competing against some of the Mustangs' biggest rivals.
"We're right in the hub of softball here (in Valparaiso) with Wahoo, Bishop Neumann and Douglas County West/Concordia," Ohnoutka said. "We are so close that we know everyone and our games are always close with all of them. It's always a strong battle."
Ohnoutka, who is undecided about her college future, has looked at a couple of junior colleges in Kansas. She has talked to both schools about participating in either softball or livestock judging.
"Caitlin has many sticks in the fire," Barb Ohnoutka said. "She loves the game, but it doesn't drive her. She is student council president and a member of Future Farmers of America.
"The fair is huge to her here in the summer. She shows at the Saunders County Fair and the Nebraska State Fair every year. She just wants to be a well-rounded person."