The pitching mound has been home to Krista Menke since she was eight. Before coming to NDSU, her dad and a couple YouTube tutorials were the only coaches she had. Now, the junior is the Bison’s bullpen primary weapon.
In 2012 Menke was named Summit League pitcher of the year and first team all-Summit League. We caught up with Menke on the mound to talk about what it is like being one of the top pitchers in the Summit League after coming from a town of 1,000 people. We even found out what a “booger-flicker” pitch is.
Hometown: Friend, Neb.
2012 Summit League Pitcher of the Year
2012 Summit League Freshman of the year
2012 All-Summit League first team
After 2013 season she is No. 7 on NDSU’s career chart for strikeouts (284)
“How did you first get into pitching?”
I was about eight years old and my dad was like, ‘Either you step up and pitch or we won’t have a softball team.’ So I stepped up and pitched and thats how I got into it.
“When did you start taking it serious?”
We didn’t have a high school team until my freshman year so basically my class was one of the first classes to start the program. We had six freshmen and we only had 10 people on the team so the first year was definitely interesting and rough because we didn’t really know what we were doing. … And then my junior year we ended up coming back and winning state and I feel like we proved to everybody that you can make something and start it on your own and do great things with it.
“How small is your hometown?”
A town of 1,000 people and only graduated 28. We kind of turned it in to one more or less because we had volleyball and when you live in a small town you usually don’t have both volleyball and softball. Softball is in the fall time in Nebraska so you had to choose between the two and it was hard to fill both teams and that’s why we only had 10 girls on the team our first year.”
Was there something that you have drastically changed since coming to college in regards to pitching?
“I never had a pitching coach until I got here. So I was always with my dad and going on YouTube and stuff. We tried out a lot of different things. Looking back, you’re like ‘Why was I doing this?’ And realizing all the things that goes into pitching. Having a pitching coach is what brought me to NDSU, it was a big asset for me coming here because I wanted to get better. I knew I hadn’t reached my potential yet.”
YouTube? There must have been a lot of trail and error.
“Yes definitely, there were times where the pitches would end up over the backstop and you’d be like, ‘Well that didn’t work (laugh).'”
Any goofy pitches you have tried from the Internet?
“There’s a pitch called the ‘burger flicker.’ It was on the internet and it was a mixture between a rise ball and a I don’t even know what. (laughs) Basically, you snap your finger like you’re flicking something off your finger and we tried it for quite awhile and I was like, ‘Dad this isn’t working out. We need to move on.’ So now my go-to pitches are my curveball and screwball.”
Have you seen someone throw a successful burger flicker?
“I have not seen it since, so I don’t even know it was. You find almost anything you want on the Internet (laughs).”
What was something your first pitching coach worked on with you the most?
“She knew I never had a pitching coach so she said, ‘I know this is going to be repetitive, but snaps is a big part of your pitching mechanics.’ So I was like are you kidding me? I have to stand here and snap with my finger? Because your fingers are the most important part of the pitch. Having movement with your pitch comes from your fingers.”
Last year, you didn’t have a pitching coach, how did that go?
“Last year was a struggle for me a little bit because Darren, he was a pitching coach, but then he took over the role again and became both the pitching and hitting coach, so his roles are kind of mixed up. But now this year we have Brynne Dordel. She’s taught me a lot already.”
What was it like being on a great staff consisting of you and Whitney Johnson?
“When I was being recruited Brittney (Weil, old softball coach) was like, ‘You and Whitney are exactly the same and you guys are going to get along so well.’ So we thought, ‘Well everyone thinks we’re going to be best friends’ and then we literally became best friends. We always had each other’s backs. If you do bad one game, I’m going to come in and help out and if I do bad you’re going to have my back and come in and do amazing. We were really compatible with each other.”
Have you been able to keep that relationship up after her eligibility was up?
“Yep. She’s still here in Fargo so we have our original coffee dates on Tuesdays. (laughs).”