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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

July 25, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Blue and Gold benefit from depth behind dish

The responsibilities of a catcher on the softball field are endless.

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Sophomore Lindsey Johnson lines up a throw to second base Sunday during the Bombers’ 1–0 loss to the University of Rochester at Kostrinsky Field. JAKE LIFSCHULTZ/THE ITHACAN

Between fielding every pitch thrown in the game, keeping the opposing team’s base runners in check and covering the entire backstop, a catcher must have a combination of cat-like reflexes and the awareness of a predator stalking its prey.

For the catchers on the softball team, the early part of the season has been especially taxing.

Sophomore Lindsey Johnson caught in all four games this past weekend against Stevens Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester.

Johnson said she knew being behind the plate for all four games, one of which ended up lasting eight innings, would be tough, but as long as she was able to balance all of her duties, she would have the stamina to play effectively behind the plate.

“It was just a matter of going out there and doing what I had to do to help the team,” Johnson said. “I knew if I just played a fundamentally sound game all around, I could hold up physically.”

There are three catchers on the South Hill squad who are rehabbing injuries. Junior catcher Erinn Jacobi has yet to start a game because of a bad throwing elbow, freshman catcher and third baseman Sydney Folk is battling a leg injury and senior catcher Kerry Barger is recovering from a knee injury.

Head Coach Deb Pallozzi said she would have liked to give Johnson a rest from her catching duties  for at least one of the weekend’s games. She said Johnson had the stamina to go behind the plate for both doubleheaders because she worked hard during the summer to improve her recovery of passed balls.

She said she plans to go with Johnson for most of the season with freshman catcher Jamie Nash acting as the second string.

Folk said playing catcher is one of the more prominent leadership roles for the Blue and Gold and calls for the most well-rounded players.

“As a catcher you’re the general of the field,” she said. “You have to be in sync with the pitchers and be able to see everything that happens around the infield and react to it very quickly.”

Pallozzi said it was likely that Barger’s knee injury would prevent her from playing catcher the entire season, but she would still work her in the lineup as a designated player or pinch hitter.

“She has a good idea of what to do both at and behind the plate, so not having her in the lineup hurts us,” she said. “We need to at least find a spot for the biggest bats in our lineup, and she’s one of them.”

Barger is currently second on the team with a .429 batting average and leads the South Hill squad in doubles with five.

Pallozzi said despite the team’s two-week layoff, the catchers could never truly get a feel for the pace of the game or improve their vision. But with the schedule picking up and early injuries, Johnson and Nash could get into a rhythm.

“We need to get them into more of a routine so they know exactly what the position demands of them day in and day out, ” she said.