Alana Thomas is the Panthers' ace
By Marcus Key
When you're inside the pitcher's circle, every second matters. You have to be tough and react fast. Obstacles are expected and the pressure is always on. For Alana Thomas, life inside the circle is all about a state of mind.
"It's all about mentality," Thomas says, "Focusing on every pitch and visualizing how I want the play to end. When I do that, the situation usually ends up the way I want it to."
With that attitude, it's no surprise that the senior political science major has earned the role of ace on the Panthers' softball team.
Thomas says she's been playing softball for as long as she can remember, and found her love for pitching at a young age.
"I had to have been three or four," she said. "I'd sit and watch my dad and older sister play softball together. He had taught her to pitch and that was the moment. As I got older, I began taking pitching seriously."
In 2011, her league low .60 ERA in conference games helped the Panthers to a CAA championship. She was selected as Most Outstanding Performer of the tournament.
In the title game against Hofstra, Head Coach Roger Kincaid called on Thomas to pitch despite going four innings against the Pride a day earlier. Thomas responded by throwing a three-hit shutout in GSU's 2-0 victory.
"Alana is the most focused and determined athlete I know," Kincaid said. "She's embraced our philosophy of a pitching staff and has always cared more about the team results over personal stats."
In high school, Thomas was diagnosed with scoliosis after she experienced prolonged back pain. If detected at an earlier stage it could've been braced and corrected, she said, but for now she manages the condition with medication.
"I'm not going to let it get in my way," she says. "I don't think of it as a hindrance, it's something I have to deal with, so I just assume that it's normal. There's no pitying myself; I just think of how I can make this situation the best that it can be with what I've been given."
Overcoming the complications from scoliosis to be successful in softball has changed her perspective on challenges in life, including the classroom. Academically, she has been named to the Dean's List four semesters and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll for two.
She's already been accepted to law school at Georgia State and will begin this fall. Last summer, Thomas interned at the Athens-Clarke County District Attorney's office in Athens, Ga. She looks forward to law school, but insists on riding out the success of her senior year.
"Alana is one of a kind, and the type of player and person that can never be replaced," said Kincaid. "She is destined for greatness and will do well in life after softball. It has been an honor for me to be her coach."