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Addy Bullis is one the best athletes to pass through the Valley Regional softball program in recent memory. While the senior pitcher won’t be taking the field this spring, her three seasons with the Warriors were about as impressive at it gets. (Photo courtesy of Addy Bullis )
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Addy Bullis finished her high school career as one of the best softball players in the history of Valley Regional. A senior, Addy has been the Warriors’ primary pitcher and an accomplished hitter for past three seasons. Unfortunately, she will not get the opportunity to take the field this year following the cancellation of spring sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, Addy has collected a plethora of hardware and posted some eye-popping statistics during her tenure at Valley. She has committed to play Division I softball at the University of Dayton in Ohio next year.
Addy’s individual accomplishments include making the All-Shoreline Conference First Team in all three of her seasons, being named the Shoreline Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2019, and earning All-State and All-Area honors that same year. She’s also a two-time Shoreline Conference Scholar-Athlete and has won the Warriors’ Most Valuable Player Award three times.
Out of all these accolades, the one the stands out the most to Addy is her Pitcher of the Year Award.
“I’m very proud of all the things I’ve earned, but probably the one I’m most proud of is the Shoreline Pitcher of the Year,” says Addy. “I was hoping to be able to get that, but I was especially honored to get it as a junior.”
Addy notched 47 victories with a 2.13 earned-run average and 686 strikeouts in 434 innings pitched at Valley. At the plate, she had a .479 batting average with 90 hits, 53 RBI, 37 runs scored, and a 1.188 OPS (on-base plus slugging). Addy was hoping to add to those numbers while competing alongside her fellow Warriors in the 2020 season.
“This team was honestly probably one of the best I’ve played with. The bond we had was crazy. Not being able to go out with a final bang is upsetting, but this team was awesome,” Addy says. “Winning Shorelines this year was a big goal for all of us, and I had a bunch of goals this year for myself. I wanted to be All-State again, but I was hoping to get the state Pitcher of the Year. I’m still going for Gatorade Player of the Year. I wanted to reach 1,000 strikeouts. I needed around 300 more. I also wanted to get to 100 hits.”
Addy dedicates herself to softball on a year-round basis, playing for the Rhode Island Thunder travel squad in tournaments that feature teams from far and wide. Addy spends a lot of time traveling, and some of these tournaments lead to long hours at the ballfield.
“In the fall, we have four-hour practices in Massachusetts, but it’s worth it. In the winter, we have indoor practices, and those are only an hour-and-a-half away. Those are two- or three-hour practices,” says Addy. “In the summer, we just have the tournaments, which is a long, grueling schedule. The tournaments are held over the weekend, but sometimes they start on a Thursday and could go to Monday. It could be two or three games in a day, but we have four different pitchers, so we’re not all just wearing out our arms.”
Addy also does one-on-one work with her pitching coach George Perlotto in Litchfield. Addy works on her mechanics with Perlotto in order to maximize her effectiveness against opposing batters.
“We do different drills to try to perfect my mechanics. Mechanics are really important,” Addy says. “It’s especially important to keep your balance right and have the same windup all the time. You have to create the muscle memory to stay successful.”
A left-hander, Addy has several pitches at her disposal. She features a drop fastball, a rising fastball, a curveball that can break to the inside or outside of the plate, and a devastating changeup. It’s important that Addy doesn’t give away her pitches during her windup. Working with Perlotto, as well as her mother Jill at home, prevents Addy from pitch-tipping.
“It took a while for me to make my arm action look the same on my fastball and changeup. My change is one of the hardest to learn. You have to turn your arm all the way around to get it in the same position,” Addy says. “Throwing the fastball, then the changeup back and forth, was something I worked on with my coach, and it helped. My mom catches for me a lot, too. She would tell me when I was showing my changeup.”
Addy’s mother played softball growing up, and her input has proved a huge help for the southpaw. Interestingly enough, Addy didn’t decide to play softball because of her mother. Instead, Addy was inspired to take the diamond by her brother Jordan, who graduated from Valley in 2018.
“My mom played the outfield growing up in Wisconsin. I didn’t even know she played softball until later in my career,” says Addy, who lives in Ivoryton. “My brother played baseball for a while, and he was a pitcher. That helped me find out that’s what I wanted to do. So, I tried pitching softball, and I enjoyed it.”
As Addy developed into an ace pitcher, she learned that it takes much more than just good stuff to be successful. There is a constant battle of the minds happening between pitcher and hitter throughout the course of a game.
“For lefties, I love to throw the curve that moves out. I also love to throw the change up at the beginning of the count, because it’s unexpected. Being unpredictable is really important,” Addy says. “One of my main pitches when I’m up in the count is my rise ball. I have the control to throw it low high in the zone, and I get a lot of swing-and-misses. I love striking people out. I have a great team behind me to help field, but I try to give them a break sometimes.”
Addy gets to be on the other side of the pitcher-versus-hitter struggle when she steps into the batter’s box. Addy’s experience toeing the rubber has helped her immensely at the plate.
“As a pitcher, you want that first pitch to be a strike, so I try to take advantage of that first pitch. That’s what I usually hit most of the time. If not, it was the first strike that came to me,” Addy says. “If it’s in there, I just go for it. If I have a choice, I like inside pitches. I have quick hands, and I can get around the ball better on inside pitches.”
Allyson Pitney, who was entering her second season as Warriors’ head coach, had hoped to see Addy light it up once again this spring. Even though that won’t happen, Pitney was impressed with what she saw from Addy in all aspects during the 2019 campaign.
“Addy is the most tenacious athlete I have coached. Her focus, drive, and commitment to softball is unmatched. She is always striving to better her skills and makes whatever sacrifices are needed to do so,” says Pitney. “In addition to dominating the pitcher’s circle, Addy is equally powerful at the plate. She is truly an all-around force of a player. I’m excited to see what Addy’s future at Dayton has in store.”
Looking ahead to next year, Addy is hoping to make an impact with the Dayton softball squad. She will major in early childhood education following her senior internship at Essex Elementary School. Until then, Addy is staying active and remaining optimistic.
“I’m really excited to play in college. I’m hopeful to get some playing time in the spring with them. I think there are a lot of people excited to get back out there,” says Addy, who thanks her family and all of her coaches for their support. “Over the summer, we have a workout plan. I run every day, and I have a homemade gym in my basement. Once we get to school, we have lifting in the morning, and we have to be able to keep up. Right now, we’re all just trying to stay healthy and make sure everyone is staying in shape.”
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