ST. IGNATIUS — Unlike the country, Tomi Brazill’s last name has two L’s.
But the Mission-Arlee-Charlo senior pitcher has had more W’s than L’s in the softball circle going back to last year, when she earned Class B-C all-state honors while working with junior all-conference catcher Azia Umphrey.
Now in their second year as battery mates, they teamed up in the pitching game and provided help offensively on Friday as MAC improved to 6-3 with a doubleheader sweep of Troy as the Bulldogs aim for a return trip to state after missing out last year.
“They just seem to have a good cohesion, know what each other like and can adjust to each other’s moods well,” MAC coach Susan Weaselhead said in between 18-6 and 26-8 wins over the Trojans.
“That’s huge because when they get out there, my coaching’s basically done. I can tell them what I want them to do, but it’s on them. They’re in charge out there, and those two run the show well.”
Teammates on the diamond, Brazill and Umphrey are volleyball and basketball rivals because Brazill goes to Arlee and Umphrey attends St. Ignatius. But the two have played softball together for five to six years and knew they had to come together quickly when they moved positions to replace the all-state duo of pitcher Randee Charlo and catcher Kenzie Couture.
Umphrey took over the duty of calling pitches midway through last season, which Brazill finished with a 15-9 record and 85 strikeouts to 44 walks. Brazill picked up two wins on Friday, pitching four total innings in which she struck out five batters and allowed three earned runs.
“She reads batters really well and knows what I like to throw,” Brazill said. “I’m not afraid to tell her I don’t like a pitch. There’s no discomfort. I think we work really well together.”
But how often does Brazill, who relies more on pinpoint control than overpowering hitters, really shake off the calls she gets from Umphrey?
“No, she doesn’t shake me off much,” Umphrey said. “I think I know what she likes to throw, so it kind of works out.
“One of our coaches called the pitcher-catcher a battery with the plus side and negative side that have to work together. That’s how I feel this works.”
Their dedication and drive show through in their play but also in their unique jersey numbers. Umphrey wears 47 like her favorite player, Washington Huskies catcher Morganne Flores, while Brazill wears 99 because it’s “the highest number you can go, and I want to be that top person.”
Symbiotic in the pitching game, their differences show when they’re on offense. Brazill is a left-handed slap hitter, while Umphrey is a right-handed power hitter.
Against Troy, Brazill flashed her speed and smart baserunning with an inside-the-park home run, two RBIs, five runs scored and four stolen bases, including a steal of home by diving past the catcher’s tag attempt. Umphrey pounded out four hits that included a pair of two-run home runs, a triple, seven runs scored, four RBIs and two stolen bases.
Their teammates came up with big-time hits, too. Courtney Mitchell tallied six total RBIs and hit a three-run home that put MAC up 4-1 in the first inning of game one. Olivia Garland and Shyanne Reum added four total RBIs apiece.
That offense was needed because MAC gave up 14 total runs and committed three errors as it worked on developing younger pitchers, including Umphrey, Reum and Maysa Couture.
“We needed to give our other pitchers some opportunities today,” Weaselhead said. “If they don’t get these opportunities, they’re going to have nerves when we need them.”
While Brazill and Umphrey have made their impact so far, that pitching depth can be crucial as the Bulldogs try to make the state tournament after coming up one game short last year when they got knocked off at divisionals.
“That’s our No. 1 goal,” Brazill said. “It’s to get to state.”