Updated Wed, Apr 3, 2013 6:13 pm
Mid-American Conference play just got underway last weekend for Ohio Softball (17-12, 2-2), and freshman pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey (8-5) is already making her impact on the Bobcats’ success.
Over the weekend, Doresy pitched 11 innings combined against Kent State and Buffalo, and allowed just one earned run. Against the Golden Flashes, Dorsey pitched a complete-game shutout in which she allowed only two hits.
“Starting conference play, (Dorsey’s success) is going to be more about making sure that she continues to relax throughout the game and carry the game in her rhythm,” Ohio coach Jodi Hermanek said. “It’s just going to be more about her settling into her rhythm in her game and not overthinking it.”
So far, the freshman has not disappointed. Dorsey was dominant in her outing versus Kent State, but she showed a few flashes of the poise that her coach is looking for. Kent State had runners in scoring position four separate times against Dorsey, but she allowed none to score.
With the success that Dorsey has experienced at this point in the season, she has shown that she should be a big part of the Bobcats’ fortunes. She currently leads the team in victories and strikeouts with eight and 85 respectively. She has also pitched two complete games.
“She’s a special freshman,” Hermanek said. “She’s had some (moments) that make her look like any other veteran. Her spin is amazing. She definitely can spin the ball. Whether she hits her spot or not, she can make it a believable pitch, and then it just takes off at the right moment through a batter’s swing.”
All the positives that Dorsey has brought to the Bobcats’ pitching staff is why Hermanek says she was recruiting high school pitchers so much last season. It’s no surprise that she chose Dorsey.
A native of Grove City, Ohio, Dorsey played high school softball and Central Crossing. In her four years a Comet, she posted a career ERA below 1.00. She garnered two OHSAA Division-I First Team All-State selections and led Central Crossing to within one game of a regional championship in her both her junior and senior seasons.
But after four years, there was something missing from Dorsey’s high school résumé.
“My whole goal in high school was to win states and we didn’t, and it kind of left me with this hunger,” she said. “I just want to be at the top of the game and just win something huge like the MAC.”
This season Dorsey is pat of a team that is capable of accomplishing her goal of winning a MAC title. And as part of a pitching staff with two aces, the load on Dorsey’s shoulders is much lighter than it was before coming to Ohio.
Dorsey has received a lot of help from Ohio sophomore and fellow ace Lauren McClary. Last season McClary (7-5) was a freshman and found herself in many situations that Dorsey has faced or will face this season.
According to Hermanek, Dorsey has been through ups and downs this season, and McClary can relate to the freshman’s struggles.
“She helps me a lot,” Dorsey said about her sophomore rotation mate.
Dorsey recalled McClary sitting her down after the freshman’s first mediocre pitching performance in order to encourage Dorsey.
“She always keeps me comfortable with pitching in college,” Dorsey said.
Hermanek said the addition of Dorsey this year has really improved her pitching staff in more ways than one. Not only is Dorsey’s individual success a big positive, but Hermanek said that Dorsey also allows for a versatile pitching staff.
The Bobcats carry two aces in McClary and Dorsey. They also have a sophomore in Kaylin Clarke, who can pitch if needed. Clarke has primarily contributed as a hitter this season, but is always available to pitch when called upon.
“You need to have a staff; you can’t just rely on one (pitcher),” Hermanek said. “When you play three or four games in three days, that fatigue is definitely heavy on a pitcher.
“We knew we need to have two style aces, and then a great offset with Kaylin Clarke. She can start a game, she can relieve a game, she can really change the way the game is defended just with her style.”
In addition to the versatility that Hermanek has to work with, she also has a staff she can count on for a couple years in her trio of young pitchers.
As MAC play gets into full swing and the Bobcats begin playing more games, more pressure will be put on the pitching staff and Dorsey to perform. Last weekend, the Ohio’s pitching staff passed its first test by playing four games in two days.
What the future has in store for the Bobcats remains to be seen, but with Dorsey’s help, the young and versatile pitching staff is well equipped for the challenges ahead.