When Nikki Spencer was in sixth grade, she tried modeling. She went to photo shoots and even had her picture used in a hair magazine.
“I liked being in front of the camera and all. It was fun, but…,” Spencer said, trailing off.
It wasn't softball.
“Softball, is something, it takes my mind off a lot of things,” said Spencer, a junior pitcher at Gwynn Park High School. “If I have a long day and I go pitch, my mind will be clear after. Pitching, I love that. That's just one of the things I just love to do. If I have any problems or anything, it's something that helps me.”
Spencer has brought her distinct style to the softball field. She covers her hair, no longer as long and curly as it was when she modeled, with a baseball cap when she pitches. Spencer started wearing the hat as a freshman to combat glare and initially asked Gwynn Park coach Wes Courtney to get the team visors, which are much more common among softball players.
But she's grown to take pride in her distinctive style, especially how the hat lowered over her eyes combines with her long wingspan for an intimidating pitching motion.
The results have been spectacular. Spencer, in her first year as Gwynn Park's lone starting pitcher, is 12-0 with an earned run average around 1.00.
Although Courtney said Spencer is capable of pitching in college, her skills with the bat increase her odds of landing a desired college scholarship.
“She's an excellent fastball hitter,” Courtney said. “The faster you are, the better she'll hit. ... That's what's going to make her easily go to college ranks and get a scholarship.”
Spencer's early top choice is Lincoln (Pa.) University, and a Bowie State coach also has expressed interest.
In the meantime, Spencer is working two days per week as a cashier at K-Mart to save money for a car. She typically works about seven hours Sundays and, after Monday softball practices, she works another four hours.
But as she decided with modeling, softball comes first.
In his ace, Courtney sees Spencer with the looks for modeling, work ethic for a steady job, ambition for college and arm for pitching.
“She's got everything going for her,” Courtney said.