Softball is a game made up of multiple positions that rely on each other in order to play as a team. University of Utah softball pitcher, Katie Donovan, believes pitchers are just as much a part of the team as any other player, because even if they only have one job, pitching, it is vital. There is more to the game for pitchers than being isolated on the mound and throwing pitches on the days their name is in the lineup.
Donovan explained that a lot of people think since she is a pitcher, her only job is to throw the ball, but she knows more goes into it than just that. Not only do pitchers study their opponents who will step up to the plate, but a pitcher relies on their catcher, those calling the pitches and the defense, meaning that a pitcher must understand how they play so they know what to expect from them as well.
Donovan isn’t the only Ute who calls the mound home. Senior Miranda Viramontes is another Ute who plays the same position. According to Donovan, the two have different strengths that complement each other, something that makes it difficult for other teams to go up against.
While Viramontes throws hard, she pitches the ball so it goes down. Donovan doesn’t throw as hard, and she spins the ball so it goes up.
“It’s something that you work forever on just to be able to throw three or four good pitches,” Donovan said. “It takes a lot of persistence because we practice the same thing over and over again, but you never know when you are going to need that particular pitch or when you are going to need to throw it in a game.”
How both pitchers get their strength to keep their opponents on their toes requires them to practice a bit differently than the rest of the team. That is the only thing that differs from pitchers and the other positions that surround the mound, according to Donovan.
On a typical day, the entire team will meet in the morning to either do lifting or conditioning, but pitchers might not do a certain a lift if there is a high risk of injury for their wrists or their shoulders. Later in the day, the pitchers will warm up with the team and practice defensive skills before retreating to their bullpen to begin their own practice.
At times, Donovan and Viramontes feel the weight of the game rests solely in their pitches, but that’s when they remind themselves how much a team sport softball is.
“There is some pressure because pitchers control the game and set the tone from the beginning,” Viramontes said. “But when you have an offense and defense like the team we have, it’s easy to let go of some of that pressure and let them back you up.”
Not every game comes down to the final pitch, but a single pitch can change the outcome of a game, so Donovan and Viramontes try to keep that in mind.
With both pitchers entering their final year at Utah, they’re hoping to hit their strides and carry the team. The Utes are replacing several seniors this season, but with a chunk of the game ultimately resting in the pitcher’s hands, they want to find a way to take their young team all the way.
“I’m looking forward to working with these new freshmen on and off the field to develop something special for my senior year,” Viramontes said.