How Colo-NESCO pitcher Callie Kohlwes has bettered her game since returning from a shoulder injury

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

Colo-NESCO pitcher Callie Kohlwes is ready to make up for lost time.

The Royals junior missed the second half of the 2021 softball season with a shoulder injury. It took some time for Colo-NESCO to regroup when she went down, but the Royals did start to click at the end of the year, winning four straight before falling to AGWSR by one run in the Class 1A regional quarterfinals.

With Kohlwes back healthy Colo-NESCO is hoping for an even stronger finish in 2022.

Colo-NESCO pitcher Callie Kohlwes has looked sharper on the mound and in the field this season after returning from a shoulder injury suffered in 2021.

“That’s been great,” Colo-NESCO head coach Candace Sutton said. “The experience has been awesome, whether she’s pitching or at shortstop.” 

Kohlwes had a productive school year in cross country, basketball and track.  She put in a lot of time getting herself back into top form and it's paid off.

“A lot of practice and exercise,” Kohlwes said. “I feel stronger than I did last year.” 

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Last year Kohlwes posted a 4.50 ERA in 74 2/3 innings pitched. She's already thrown 38 1/3 innings this season and has lowered her ERA to 2.92.

“She’s locating her spots,” Sutton said. “Abby (Hostetler) calls all the pitches and I think they’re working together as a unit really well.” 

Kohlwes credits Hostetler's play behind the plate for helping her improve on the mound this season.

“Our pitching calling has gotten better,” Kohlwes said. “We’ve gotten smarter.” 

She said they have great chemistry together.

“We’ve been pitching and catching since probably fourth grade,” Kohlwes said. “We figured out our locations and we know what each other is strong with.” 

Colo-NESCO pitcher Callie Kohlwes has lowered her ERA from 4.50 in 2021 to 2.92 so far in 2022.

Hostetler only has one error so far this season and she's thrown out two base runners. She loves being able to work with Kohlwes again.

“It was great to see her come back strong,” Hostetler said. “We really need her.” 

Sophomore Annabelle Nessa took over for Kohlwes when she went down last year. She threw 74 innings and posted an 8.32 ERA.

“It’s great to have both,” Sutton said. “We have a pretty busy week and I know I’m not going to overwork one of them because somebody needs to come in during the middle of the game I trust them to be able to do so.” 

Nessa said she's gained a lot of confidence from last year's experience. But she's glad to have Kohlwes back to share the load.

“It’s been great,” Nessa said. “I’m very confident in how (well) Callie can do in a game. But if she needs help I can be there. Having our teamwork together has been great.” 

This season Nessa has lowered her ERA to 6.20 in 20 1/3 innings.

“Having someone you can trust helps,” Kohlwes said. “If I get in a situation where I have to be taken out it helps having somebody there that’s strong enough to keep us going.” 

When Kohlwes isn't pitching she's at shortstop. Kohlwes has only made one error in 27 chances defensively and she's also been productive at the plate, hitting .344 with five RBIs in 10 games

Unlike past seasons Colo-NESCO is giving Kohlwes and Nessa solid support in the field. 

In 2021 the Royals' team fielding percentage was just 85.5 %. It's up to 91.8 % this year.

“I think our fielding has been consistent," Kohlwes said. "“Our communication has been better.”

But in order for the Royals to take the next step and fully capitalize on the return of Kohlwes, they must improve with the bat.

Colo-NESCO is only hitting .211 and averaging 2.6 runs per game as a team. As a result, the Royals are only 2-8 through the first 10 games.

“We’re holding teams down on runs,” Sutton said. “We’ve just got to find a way to put some across the plate ourselves. Hopefully it comes in the next couple weeks.”