SHERBURN -- Martin County West senior Rebecca Steen is no stranger to pressure and being the center of attention.
Whether it is competing on the uneven parallel bars in gymnastics or hurling fastballs on the softball diamond, the Maverick standout is used to having all eyes on her.
"I think that every sport has its pressures or expectations that you put on yourself," said Steen. "For gymnastics, you're out there competing by yourself and if you make a mistake, everyone can see it. If you give up a big hit in softball, everyone can see that, too."
PITCHING PREPARATION — Martin County West senior hurler Rebecca Steen prepares to deliver a pitch during recent regular-season softball action at Fox Lake Area Sports Complex in Welcome. Steen has played a key role behind the Maverick softball team’s 4-0 start to the spring season. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
With the ability to cope with individual pressure, Steen has been a big piece of Martin County West's softball success during the last three years.
This season, the three-year starter has earned three of the Mavericks' four wins, striking out 26 and walking 10 in 15 innings pitched.
The Martin County West hurler is holding opponents to a .207 batting average and has a 1.87 ERA so far.
"I've always been a pitcher. When I was younger I would go watch both my sisters play and during the games I would get bored, so I would play catch with coach's son Brady (Ziegler)," said Steen. "He taught me to pitch and so even when I was young, I was a pitcher."
This season, the Mavericks aren't just relying on Steen's sizzling pitches, but also have freshman Sierra Williamson to fire pitches to the plate.
"In past seasons when I'm not pitching, I have played second," said Steen. "But this season, so far with the players that we have, I have been playing first when I don't pitch."
Martin County West is proving successful no matter who is doing the pitching, starting out the season 4-0 so far.
Part of the success has been the offensive effort, with the Mavericks scoring at least 10 runs in each of their four games.
For her efforts, Steen has gone 7-for-12 from the plate for a .583 batting average.
"Depending on the day, I think that pitching and hitting can be great," said Steen. "I mean softball, it's a team sport and so that's what's great. If I have a bad inning, my teammates can pick me up at the plate, or I can get a big hit after someone struck out. It makes it really fun."
Steen has smacked three doubles, one triple and generated nine RBIs during the early stages of the season.
On base, the speedy senior has swiped three bases and scored five runs so far this season.
And for Steen, success is something that she's used to both in the gym and on the field.
"I put a lot of time and work in for gymnastics," said Steen. "But I really love both sports. I have never thrown a no-hitter, so that would be awesome to do, but also I don't think I have had a game without a walk. So I'd like to see if I can do that."
In the gym for the Martin County Area Magic, Steen qualified for the Class A state meet a total of 10 times, including six as an individual during her career.
At the state meet, Steen captured five top-10 individual finishes, including a fifth-place medal on the balance beam in 2013.
During her six-year gymnastic career, Steen was a two-time Section 3A all-around champion, and won the section title on the vault in 2013.
And last season on the diamond, Steen helped the Mavericks reach the Section 2A, South Sub-Section quarterfinals with a 10-5 win over Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial.
"In the playoffs last year, there were a lot of big plays and close innings where I knew I needed to pitch well," said Steen. "I think all the pressure and success has helped me feel confident that I can come back, even if I throw a bad pitch, an throw a good one the next pitch."