Talk to her coach, Mick Harper, and he’ll tell you his sophomore pitcher is probably the calmest player on the field. Runners on base, an inconsistent umpire, down 5-0, nothing phases her.
Demarest’s cool demeanor is one of a host of traits she has brought to the table to help lead Chapel Hill to the second round of the Class AAA playoffs.
“She’s just as intense and also just as calm in every situation,” Harper said. “That says a lot about somebody that’s as important as a pitcher.”
Want to know why the Lady Panthers are the only local team that hasn’t packed up for the off-season?
They’ve given up an average of 1.75 runs in their past eight games – five games in the Region 4-AAA tournament where they finished second and three games in the Class AAA state sectionals last week where they knocked off Southeast Bulloch to advance to the Sweet 16.
Of course Demarest was on the mound for all eight of those games. Going into the series with Southeast Bulloch, she was 15-8 with a 2.59 ERA. Her strikeout to walk ratio was almost three to one (177 K’s, 67 BB’s). And for good measure, she’s also thrown three no-hitters.
“She makes my job very easy,” junior catcher Sierra Smith said. “She gives it to me where it needs to be and that’s what makes her really special. She knows what she’s doing. She’s got a certain amount of confidence when she gets up there that I know for sure we’re going to get the job done.”
Getting the job done on game days doesn’t come without a lot of hard work off the field that most of her teammates don’t see.
When she’s not pitching, Demarest is also the No. 3 runner on Chapel Hill’s state-ranked cross country team.
So, on days when there’s softball practice or a game, she usually goes home afterward and does running workouts assigned by Chapel Hill cross country coach Kelly Williams. Then there’s still homework to do before she can finally take a break.
But Demarest takes it all in stride, and it’s paying off in both sports.
She pitched five games in a four-day stretch during the Region 4-AAA tournament two weeks ago. The day after the tournament ended, she got up at the crack of dawn to run the Atlanta Classic 5K with the Chapel Hill cross country team. She ended up setting a personal record with a time of 20 minutes, 35.80 seconds.
“I cried that morning,” Demarest said. “I did not want to get up and go run. But my mom said that I needed to do it, so I ended up PR’ing. I was glad I ran.”
Demarest’s prowess in cross country has paid big dividends for her in softball. Coming into the season, Harper knew Demarest would be his ace, but didn’t know how much to expect from her.
Now, in the thick of the state playoffs, Harper’s got not only a pitcher who’s calm and in command of her game, he’s got the advantage of having a pitcher who can outlast the opposition because of the endurance she’s built up from running.
Harper saw it first hand last week when when the Southeast Bulloch pitcher wore down in the second and third games while Demarest kept on ticking like the Energizer Bunny.
“Her being in that type of condition, on her own and through cross country, has paid huge dividends for us,” Harper said.