Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
For three seasons, Kayla Banks has stood tall on the mound for Renaissance High. The senior pitcher is a major reason the Lady Phoenix figure to be the last team standing, once again, when the Detroit Public School League girls’ softball champion is crowned.
“We played in the best tournament in the state last weekend and Kayla was the backbone of our team,’’ Renaissance coach Garrard Taylor said of Banks, the PSL Proud Strong Learner of the Week. “She pitched all five games and we won our division. She really impressed a lot of coaches up there.”
Since pitching the Renaissance junior varsity team to an unbeaten season as a freshman, Banks has developed into the PSL’s top power pitcher. The Lady Phoenix has won the PSL softball crown the last seven years, and Banks has been on the mound the last two.
“Pitching is probably the most important aspect of a program,’’ Taylor said. “If you have a good pitcher, it takes a lot of pressure off the defense because you just can’t come up and put the ball in play all the time. When you have a power pitcher like Kayla, it’s hard to get on base and hard to score.”
Banks’ statistics through 16 games show her dominance. In 78 innings, she struck out 110 batters and walked just 27 while allowing only 18 earned runs and 55 hits. Her development as a consummate power pitcher continues to evolve.
“I’ve been pitching since I was 7 and there are so many different techniques that I have learned,’’ Banks said. “It’s all about your wrist snap and how you push off. I need to improve on little things like putting all of my body into the pitch. When I do that, I usually don’t have a problem.”
With a 3.2 grade point average, Banks looks forward to being offered a college scholarship to play softball. She’s been in contact with several historically black colleges and plans to study business management and marketing.
Banks’ immediate goal is to finish her Renaissance career with another PSL title. The Lady Phoenix play Cass Tech Friday at 4 p.m. in the league championship game at the University of Detroit Mercy.
“I was a little nervous coming in about making sure that we kept up the legacy, but we’ve been able to keep it going” Banks said. “We always set our sights on winning the city and state. We haven’t been able to win the state, but I believe we have the right people on this team to do it.”
The season has already been a blast for Banks, highlighted by her workhorse performance in the prestigious tournament at Grand Blanc.
“I was more than proud of myself,’’ she said. “I knew I could pitch five games. I just had to pace myself and make sure that every pitch was working. I was sore, of course, afterward. But I was very proud of myself and my team.”
The Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week Award is representative of the league’s top boys’ and girls’ athletes and is sponsored by Detroit area McDonald’s owner-operators.