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Wichita State and former Tecumseh High softball standout Bingham helping to produce COVID-19 masks

Brian Johnson

TECUMSEH - Caitlin Bingham, a Tecumseh High School alum and pitcher on the Wichita State University softball team, has taken up another pastime since COVID-19 has played havoc with the world.

After watching her softball season come to a premature ending with the coronavirus pandemic, Bingham has volunteered hours a day on the sewing machine producing masks to help medical and frontline workers.

“I'm like the least crafty person on the planet,” said Bingham.

But that isn't enough to keep Bingham from providing a noble cause during a trying time.

Coming from a family of seamstresses, Bingham and some of her family members have spent considerable chunks time on the sewing machine each day. Included in the first orders were making masks for pediatricians in California and medical personnel in Oklahoma.

“Probably close to about 200 have been made,” Bingham said on Tuesday. “I come from a long line of seamstresses. Obviously, my grandparents taught me a lot how to do it. I never really did it a lot because of the time spent with softball.”

When the pandemic first started, she personally was producing about 3-4 masks a day.

“The last couple of weeks we've been getting a big number of orders so we're spending a lot more time with it, so we can get the orders to people who need them,” said Bingham. “I probably spend 3-4 hours a day on them now.”

Most of the masks she has produced have gone to hospitals and medical facilities along with foster families in Kansas, but an order she is working on now is heading to a business in Missouri, which employs the parent of one of her Wichita State teammates.

Bingham says fabric for the masks have come from her grandmother's stash, some have sent gift cards for fabric stores and some of have sent their own stashes of material.

“I never expected any attention for this. I was doing nothing else,” Bingham said.

As for softball, she is glad that the NCAA granted another year of eligibility to spring sports athletes. The junior right-hander is excited about the prospect of playing five years of collegiate ball.

“I feel like we get a do-over year as a team,” said Bingham.

The Shockers had an 11-16 record and were preparing for American Athletic Conference play when the pandemic hit.

“As a team, we didn't have the type of season we would have liked,” Bingham said.

However, individually, Bingham felt like she was making progress from the circle. She had a 5-3 record with a 4.71 earned run average with 22 strikeouts in 52 innings of work before play was interrupted. As a sophomore in 2019, she owned a 13-9 record with a 3.60 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 122.2 innings.

“We got a new pitching coach (Morgan Lashley) who has made a difference and made tremendous strides with me,” said Bingham. “I felt like I've taken a lot of big steps. Coach Lashley has kind of a different approach. She is numbers oriented such as throwing an X amount of pitches each day. We haven't had that rigid of structure. It's a matter of pitching a lot, having a lot of confidence and working hard in the bullpen. Through this, it has seemed to calm my nerves. This structure has helped me a tremendous amount.”

In between producing the COVID-19 masks, Bingham has been working out in the driveway with her sister Emily, a current catcher on the Tecumseh High School softball squad.

Caitlin is seeking improvement and had a visit with the Wichita State coaching staff on Tuesday.

“They talked about working on staying in shape and they're wanting me to come back in August as a leader of the pitching staff,” Bingham said. “They explained how I can lead the pitching staff, along with working on my mechanics and getting ahead of batters in the count, something I have struggled with at times.”