She’s calm, cool and collected and the reigning two-time division most valuable player.
And she’s only a sophomore.
Biggersville High School fast-pitch softball standout Ali Settlemires has lofty goals in mind for her softball career and she’s well on her way to achieving them.
“She’s like having a coach on the field,” says her head coach Karrie Beth Stevens.”Nothing seems to bother her on the mound. She thrives under pressure. And she is so quiet and unassuming off the field.”
Indeed she is.
Settlemires has developed into one of the top high school fast-pitch softball pitchers in Mississippi. She has progressed to the point that major college programs such as Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri and Alabama- among others- have inquired of her and sent scouts and coaches to watch her play during the summertime as she travels with teams loaded with Division 1 talent.
Last summer Settlemires traveled and pitched with the Mississippi Bombers, a part of the Texas Bombers organization. She pitched and had success against elite travel teams from all across the country. The Bombers played in tournaments in places like South Dakota, Atlanta and Chattanooga.
That was the big one according to Ali’s mom Jennifer.
“That was a big one. A lot of talent was in that Chattanooga tournament.”
During the Atlanta tournament Settlemires was on the mound against a team from just outside the Atlanta area that was ranked one of the top travel teams in the country.
And they were loaded for bear with multiple girls that were not only two to three years older than her, but several had already signed scholarships with major colleges like Florida, Georgia and Florida State.
She held her own.
Settlemires enjoys sports to the degree that she would go out for football if that was allowed in these parts. And it soon may be, as many high school females are dressing out in shoulder pads and helmets across America.
Biggersville will begin a start-up volleyball program next fall and Settlemires is planning on playing. She was also a freshman member of the Lady Lions basketball team that made it to the state tournament in 2016.
She decided to sit this year out but has the itch again and will likely be back on the court next winter for head coach Cliff Little.
“Ali was always a calming force for us last year,” Little reminisced.”Things would be going kind of bad for us in a game and I would put her in and she just made everyone better and calmer.”
She has also played and been quite successful at golf and soccer. Is there anything she can’t do? Ali started playing softball at the Sportsplex at the ripe old age of six in the coach pitch league where she was selected for the all-star team. She was also selected for a travel team, which was her first experience on the road even though they didn’t travel far.
But she didn’t start pitching until she was nine. It was around that time that Settlemires was introduced to a highly-successful pitching coach named Tom McLoughlin. “He’s strict but he’s there for you and will get you where you wanna go if you put in the work,” Settlemires added.
She still takes lessons once a week in Booneville with the former Ole Miss coach as she endeavors to sign with a Division 1 university upon graduating from Biggersville.
“That’s my goal, to play Division 1,” she said. “Playing against elite teams during the summer has really helped me improve my game.
“Last year I played with the Mississippi Bombers but this year I have been invited to play with the Mississippi Elite. The competition will still be of the highest level and I enjoy playing in that kind of atmosphere.”
Settlemires also played with a local travel team — Corinth Impact — two years ago, which helped prepare her for bigger and better things.
The Lady Lions sophomore’s greatest strengths are movement and action on her pitches. She’s rarely out of the strike zone and paints the corners like an artist. She is consistently in the 60 mph range on her fastball and has been told by major college coaches that she really needs to be around 65 as a senior to sign D-1.
With nearly three full years of high school and strength and conditioning ahead, Ali should be able to acheive that goal.
“The thing I need to work on the most is my strength. But if I keep working and getting better I’ll be able to get where I want to be.”
Settlemires may be a dynamic, veteran pitcher as only a sophomore but she’s still a teeneger who enjoys being with her friends and teammates.
“My teammates always have my back,” she continued.”We play well together but we have to keep working to get better. And coach (Stevens) supports us one hundred percent.” Biggersville is the two-time defending 1-1A champions with Settlemires being the unanimous MVP. They look to make it a three-peat this season depite getting off to a rocky start.
“This has never been done before here at Biggersville so of course we want to keep it going,” Stevens concluded.
Keep an eye on Ali Settlemires over the next three seasons because not often do you find a female softball athlete of her caliber in northeast Mississippi.
And maybe, just maybe, we’ll enjoy following her on the highest collegiate level in just a few short years.