Half Man, Half Machine

9 years 2 weeks 6 days ago Monday, March 14 2011 Mar 14, 2011 Monday, March 14, 2011 5:43:00 PM CDT March 14, 2011 in Tiger Talk
By: Eric Blumberg

COLUMBIA - We're talking about practice. Not necessarily important to Allen Iverson, but there's no better way to work on your softball swing than to hit live pitching. For the Missouri Softball team, there is a fine line between man and machine.

Mizzou softball knows success. After back-to-back trips to the College World Series, the team has extra help this season.

Eight Mizzou students are volunteering their time to serve as team managers this season.

The Mizzou softball team has a new freshman pitcher this season.

"He saw me pitch and the rest is history," he said.

His name is Lance McMahon, and he pitches with a different objective.

"Instead of trying to get people out, I'm trying to give up bombs," McMahon said.

"The number one thing you need is a batting practice pitcher," coach Ehern Earleywine said.

That's right. McMahon is a living, throwing, pitching machine.

"They calculated it and in four years you're probably going to throw about 40,000 pitches and for a year that's probably 10,000 pitches and I just said to myself oh my gosh... What have you gotten yourself into," McMahon recalled.

He got himself into a scholarship and an apprenticeship.

"I decided that I wanted to go be a softball coach so this was probably the best route to go," McMahon said.

"I don't know if I'm ruining him or helping. That's the goal for him: to coach college softball and we hope we're giving him some tools," Coach Earleywine explained.

Some tools, and a little bit of pressure. It's McMahon's job to make sure he doesn't hit a hitter.

"You don't want to hit Rhea. She might get a little mad," McMahon said.

What if he hit you?

"I can't say that on camera," senior centerfielder Rhea Taylor responded.

"Trying to be consistent everyday for an hour is not easy," McMahon said.

When it comes to hits, Lance doesn't just give them up. He takes a few, too.

"When I was throwing intersquad, Maddy Ruggeberg hit me in the collarbone and broke it actually," McMahon said.

"It was kind of a bad deal. Kind of embarrassing for him. He's a trooper and like two weeks later he was out there throwing again," Coach Earleywine explained.

Lance McMahon learned to pitch underhanded from his older sisters, Katie and Marcie, who pitched at Columbia College.

Lance's trip to San Diego with the team earlier this season was the first time he's ever flown on an airplane.

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