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Syracuse sees success using consistent pitcher-catcher combinations

first_imgPitching against Northwestern on Feb. 20, Jocelyn Cater struggled to control her pitches. She allowed four walks in as many innings to start the game.To calm her down, catcher Julie Wambold called time and came to the mound.“She’ll come out and say, ‘Hey we’re nervous, take a breath, let’s get past this and get the next one,’” Cater said.Cater retired six straight batters from the end of the fourth to the start of the sixth.While Syracuse (7-8) employs two different catchers, its pitchers tend to throw to the same catcher due to defensive requirements. Sydney O’Hara plays first base when she isn’t pitching, causing a ripple effect that sends Wambold to catch for Cater. When O’Hara does pitch, Wambold is at second to complete the infield, sending Alyssa Dewes behind the plate.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThough head coach Leigh Ross said these changes are merely a product of O’Hara playing first when she doesn’t pitch, the result has paired O’Hara with Dewes in six of her seven starts and Cater with Wambold in six of her eight.“Once you start working with a catcher, you get really comfortable with them,” O’Hara said.O’Hara said she is comfortable with both catchers but she seems happy to be working more with the same one. She and Dewes have been working on staying low, blocking the ball and keeping loose balls in front of Dewes when runners are on base.When she throws with pitching coach Mike Bosch watching, she tends to throw to Dewes.“We’re definitely more comfortable with each other,” Dewes said. “I know what she likes to throw in certain situations, but I feel comfortable catching for both pitchers.”Cater said that the two-catcher rotation is a strength of the team. Cater is left-handed, which Ross said causes the ball to spin differently, and throws a fast rise ball.  Both catchers have caught her enough in practice to be comfortable with her.Against Northwestern, Cater said that Wambold is better at reading her and calming her down during games.“I love Julie behind the plate, I really do,” Ross said. “I think she brings a sense of calmness to the team.”Though the pitcher-catcher combinations have so far been a product of the infield’s defensive needs, Ross said that might change when pitcher AnnaMarie Gatti returns from injury.While O’Hara and Cater are rise ball pitchers, Gatti throws a heavy drop ball that cuts down late. Ross said that Wambold is better at framing drop balls as strikes and that she would probably catch for Gatti. The rest of the infield would remain intact with Wambold catching Gatti.In the batter’s box, Wambold and Dewes have been polar opposites this season. Wambold is second on the team in RBI while Dewes is second to last among everyday players in batting average.Wambold’s hitting commands playing time, but Ross said she wouldn’t change the catcher rotation despite Dewes’ struggles, proving the importance of the growing comfort between pitcher and catcher.Said Ross: “Sometimes there is that correlation where a pitcher gets really comfortable with a certain catcher and they bring the best out of that pitcher.” Comments Published on March 3, 2015 at 12:07 am Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more