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By CHHUN SUN The Salt Lake Tribune
SPANISH FORK, Utah (AP) -- For the past four years, Spanish Fork softball player Whitney Holm has contorted the faces of many coaches, players and spectators into disbelief.
When you see Holm in person, you can tell she clearly doesn't use steroids.
But the senior, who stands at 5-foot-8 and weighs about 125 pounds, can smack the ball so hard, and on such a consistent basis, that people seem to comment on her skinny physique at every at-bat.
Holm leads the state with 10 home runs entering this week, meaning she's only four from tying the state record, which was set by former Murray star and current Utah Ute Brittany Parker last season.
"I know I'm not big, but I want to play like I'm big," Holm said. "I don't think being small should work against you."
Yes, she's tried protein shakes, though she's not taking any right now because she doesn't know what her future college, Dixie State, considers bad products. Yes, she eats a lot, though her mom, Mary, said, "I just don't know where it all goes."
And she does hit the weight room often, though she might have spent enough time in there already.
"When you pick her up," Mary said, "she feels like cement."
But people still wonder: Where does she get all her power from?
It's a lot of things, but some can narrow it down to three: her wrists, her legs and her fast swing.
Holm is also a smart hitter, though Spanish Fork coach Don Andrews said earlier this year that his clean-up batter appeared to be very eager about getting a hit at every plate appearance.
"She has faced a variety of pitchers," Andrews said. "She has faced slow pitchers, she has faced pitchers who can go up or down. You better not make a mistake, no matter what you're throwing. With your better hitters, you make a mistake, they make you pay.
"And Whitney will make you pay."
When Holm went on four recruiting trips before choosing Dixie State, every school expressed concern about her weight. Utah, Portland State and Washington all hinted that being so light -- a player her height should ideally weigh about 140 pounds -- might become a problem, though all the college coaches said they would build her up once she finished high school.
One school even called her on occasion and asked if she'd gained any weight since their last talk.
But Holm would tell them not too worry, saying, "I'm not big, but I want to play like I'm big. I don't think being small should work against you."
In her high school career, Holm has banged out 31 homers -- 11 during her sophomore year, when she weighed 115 pounds and helped the Dons to a state championship.
During the postseason, however, her mind-set is about getting hits on the ground. And it's not like Andrews teaches her to hit home runs, as Holm has said her Spanish Fork teammates constantly practice on getting base hits.
In fact, not too many hitters can smash out homers in the state tournament like Taylorsville's Cyd Allen -- who fits the part of a power hitter because of her muscular physique -- did last season, when the then-junior had five dingers and was the star of her state championship team.
But don't count Holm out just yet.
"It's funny because she's so skinny, but she can hit the ball so hard," said Allen, expressing a little disbelief.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-05-05-08 1221MDT