Patch pitcher Kasy'e Lalau unleashes a fastball during practice Monday at Vaihingen, Germany.

Patch pitcher Kasy'e Lalau unleashes a fastball during practice Monday at Vaihingen, Germany. (Rusty Bryan / S&S)

VAIHINGEN, Germany — A warning for Division II softball teams: Kasy’e Lalau is turning up the heat.

Lalau, the 15-year-old sophomore pitcher who led the Patch Lady Panthers to the Division II championship last May with a devastating fastball, has spent her offseason lifting weights to get stronger ... and faster.

“It helps,” said Lalau, whose first name is pronounced Cass-ee-yah, during a rainy practice session Monday.

“My speed has increased.”

That’s bad news for opposing batters.

Last year as a freshman, Lalau struck out 64 batters in eight conference games, some of them lasting four innings or fewer. In her first outing this season, a run-rule victory Saturday at Mannheim, Lalau struck out seven of the nine batters she faced in the first game, then combined with newcomer Mandi Myers to pitch a three-inning no-hitter in the nightcap.

Lalau, who says the speed of her pitches has never been measured by a radar gun, uses a fastball, changeup and a pitch she calls a “riser.” While there’s no documented evidence of her speed, her teammates can attest to it.

“She’s fast,” said second baseman Elisa Nieves, who also was a freshman All-Europe pick last season after batting .585.

“It can be scary to face her.”

An even better appreciation of Lalau’s stuff might come from her catcher, Kat Lonergan.

“Last year, she tore the seams out of my glove and broke two of my fingers,” Lonergan said after a warmup session on Monday.

“This year, they got me a soft sponge,” she added, showing what looked like a batting glove with deep palm padding on her left hand.

Despite the dangers, Lonergan said it’s fun to catch her talented teammate.

“I finally get to call some pitches,” Lonergan said. “With most other pitchers, you’re just catching the ball and hoping they’ll be able to throw a strike. Kasy’e is very accurate. You get to think with her.”

Although Lalau made the All-Europe volleyball team last fall, she thinks her future lies on the diamond.

“It’s my favorite sport,” she said.

Lalau admitted she had some apprehension about her career when her family transferred from Hawaii to Germany prior to the 2004 season.

“I was worried,” she said. “I thought it might hurt me that there was not as much competition as there is in Hawaii.”

But now, that doesn’t seem to matter as much. Lalau, who’ll return to the States for her senior year, said she loves playing with this Patch team, which in addition to Nieves and Lonergan, boasts returning All-Europe pitcher/first baseman Lauren Sanchez, a junior, and two newcomers — shortstop Monique Hall and pitcher/third baseman Myers.

All of them can hit. And Lalau, who batted .581 last season and opened this season by hitting two home runs against Mannheim, said that makes her job easier.

“I just go out there and try to hold them down,” she said. “I can count on this team to score runs.”

And hopefully deliver a second straight Division II crown.

“It makes it fun,” said Lalau of the experience of playing as the defending champion.

“We know we did it once, and we can do it again.”

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