An ERA of 1.57, 12 complete games, and 150 strikeouts sound more like stats from Randy Johnson, but they actually belong to the 2003 CSU softball pitching staff.
“We put in a lot of hard work this winter. Our ability to focus in the off-season and to keep working hard and to think about important games, like against BYU, has really helped us,” sophomore pitcher Melanie Mahoney said. “The coaches taking extra time to work with us and always having a catcher around is sweet. It is amazing how much support we have.”
In 31 games, the four women whose arms transform into windmills – junior Megan Masser, sophomore Melanie Mahoney, and freshmen Genevieve Kelly and JayCee Wood – have held opponents to a .212 batting average, only giving up 58 runs on 158 hits and only two home runs. So what happens when the Rams have a .264 combined batting average, 100 hits, 215 runs and five home runs? A 22-9 record and a bright future.
“We have had the same pitching coach for two years now and I think that consistency has helped everyone,” head coach Mary Yori said. “Our pitchers have good changeups that throw hitters off-balance. Coach Lemmons has really worked with them on the mental and emotional part of pitching to become smarter pitchers.”
A large amount of the team’s success is due to Masser, the teams’ ace who has a 1.35 ERA in 98.2 innings pitched. She has an 11-4 record, nine complete games and five saves. Strikeouts may be her most impressive category with 87, as she has already passed the 81 she fanned last year.
As the oldest thrower on the team, she has also taken charge of the Rams.
“She is an easy player to coach because she expects a lot out of herself and her team,” Yori said. “Megan’s approach to the game has made her a role model for the younger pitchers and is a good leader for the team.”
Mahoney has also stepped up on the mound to shutdown offenses. In March, Mahoney recorded the first perfect game in CSU history. She struck out one in the effort and left the rest of the work to the defense, but she was still surprised it happened.
“I was shocked. I don’t strikeout a lot of hitters, but its OK because I know I have a great defense behind me,” Mahoney said. “Everyone contributed and it was a great team effort.”
On the year Mahoney has a 1.87 ERA, a 3-2 record, two complete games and 13 strikeouts. An alternate at first base, Mahoney prefers to pitch and relies on her drops.
“I like to throw drops. I just always try to keep them moving,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney brings another element when she pitches: She can hit. With a .300 batting average and one of the team’s five homeruns, she is a force on the mound and at the plate.
Then there is Kelly. In 12 appearances, she has a 2.41 ERA, a 5-3 record and 35 strikeouts.
Wood completes the rotation with a 0.53 ERA in eight appearances. She has one complete game and 15 strikeouts in 26.8 innings of work.
The pitching staff will have to keep delivering for the Rams as they head down the final stretch of the season. The team has seven doubleheaders left before the Mountain West Conference Championship, and six of them are against MWC opponents.
Only time will reveal the end to this record breaking season, but as for future Ram opponents who have to face the junior, sophomore and two freshmen: Watch out. These girls are going to be around for a while and appear to get better with every performance.