PONTIAC — Thank goodness there is no luxury tax in high school softball.
If there were, it would cost Pontiac a pretty penny to have two Division I college prospects on its pitching staff in Amanda Fox and Regan Krause.
Coach Nicole Hayner hopes to cash in on her windfall of windmillers as the Illinois State-bound Fox (5-0), a senior lefty, and Illinois commit Krause (1-0), a junior righty, combine to baffle batters.
The 6-0 Indians have outscored foes a combined 51-0 heading into Thursday's 4:30 p.m. game against Central Catholic at Bloomington's McGraw Park. Hayner gives Fox and Krause high marks for putting team needs ahead of their own.
"There is no 'me' or 'I' in anything that they do," Hayner said of the second cousins. "The work they put in outside the season has led to others doing that same thing."
Teammates hold a special place in the pitchers' hearts.
"There is something about playing school ball," Fox explained. "I will miss it next year when I'm at ISU, being able to play with all my friends that I've played with the past four years. It's a feeling you'll never forget."
Each knows the other can take over if needed. Except in tournaments, they both pitch in every game and each plays first base when not pitching.
"Each one gets about four to five innings and then we come in with the other the last two," said Hayner, who started this time-sharing in the pitchers' circle last season.
This year, Fox has yet to allow a run, earned or otherwise, in 18 innings and she's only given up eight hits and two walks while fanning 35.
"We're off to a great start," she said. "Everybody is putting in the hard work and effort that needs to be there. I hope it continues to progress throughout the season."
A major reason Fox chose ISU was its ag communications program and location.
"I also like how I'll be able to see people I know every once in a while, but also meet new people," she said. "The coaching staff at ISU made me feel really at home."
Fox loves having Krause on the roster.
"She's more of a speed pitcher and I'm more of a junk pitcher," Fox said. "That combination works out perfectly for us."
Krause has allowed one hit and no runs in 13 innings while striking out 31 and walking one.
"Last year, I would say I was more of a thrower," she said. "I threw a lot of fastballs, but over the summer mentally, I think I became a lot stronger. I throw more drop balls and my change-up has gotten a lot better, too."
Krause, who will sign next fall, chose Illinois because "it just feels like home and it's close to home and I really like the coaching staff. Right now I'm thinking about going into business and they have one of the best business schools in the country."
Both hurlers throw above 63 mph. Their primary catcher is converted shortstop Addison Masching, a sophomore who also has committed to ISU.
Offensively, Pontiac is more aggressive than a year ago.
"Last year, we had a mindset of 'get one run early and get a second one if we can,'" Hayner said. "This year, we've taken the mindset of 'we've got two great pitchers, however we want to get more runs so we can take some of the pressure off of their shoulders.'"
Hayner's hitters have the green light to hammer the first pitch they like, a strategy that has produced a .414 team batting average. Leading the way are Sydney Barnett (.619), Maddi Stark (.467), Fox (.450), Krause (.444) and Masching (.412).
With such hitting and pitching, being a Pontiac softball fan is the least taxing job around.