Although this is her first year on the Bowdoin softball team, pitcher Melissa DellaTorre '14 has shown no signs of inexperience in recent games. Last weekend, DellaTorre pitched three complete games, going 3-0 with 28 strikeouts and four walks over five appearances spanning 23 innings.
DellaTorre's most impressive performance was on Thursday against the University of Southern Maine, in which she tallied 13 strikeouts, no walks and only two runs allowed in seven innings pitched. That strikeout total is the sixth-highest ever for a Bowdoin pitcher.
On Saturday playing in a home game against Tufts, DellaTorre clinched the season series for Bowdoin, a first for the team against the Jumbos.
She posted seven strong innings in the 2-1 win.
"Melissa had pitched a great game, [and in] the top of the 7th [with] two on and two out, Jo Clair, Tufts' outstanding first year catcher, was at the plate," wrote Director of Athletics Jeff Ward in an email to the Orient. "She had hit her league-leading 14th home run off Melissa the day before. It was a long at-bat, [and] Clair had at least one really long foul ball. But in the end, Melissa struck her out swinging."
Going into the game, DellaTorre knew that Clair would be a tough battle.
"I kind of learned what not to throw her," she said, "which was really [first year catcher] Casey Correa's doing. She didn't let me give her anything good to hit."
Currently third in the NESCAC with 70 strikeouts and seventh with a 1.87 ERA, DellaTorre was named the conference's Pitcher of the Week last week for her outstanding performance.
DellaTorre first participated in a pitching clinic when she was eight years old, and soon started playing in local leagues in Maine.
"I had fun with it so I just kept going," she said, "and my teams were usually pretty successful, which made it fun."
She played both on her Scarborough High School team and an Amateur Softball Association squad, the Southern Maine Flame.
"It's really fun to be on a team, and the people I meet always draw me to the sport," she said.
One of the reasons DellaTorre chose Bowdoin, in fact, is because the older players on the team were so welcoming when she came on a recruiting visit and held a team dinner in her honor.
However, the transition from high school to college play has not been without its challenges for DellaTorre.
"It's definitely harder competition so I've had to improve," she said. "I think that doing weightlifting and speed training throughout the year has helped me to do that. Being on the Bowdoin team has made me work on all parts of my game, and the team being so supportive and trusting of me has also made me work harder because I want to perform well so I don't let them down."
Though DellaTorre has always focused on the placement of her pitches, college demands that she use everything in her arsenal to get hitters out. She throws a fastball, changeup, screwball, rise ball, drop ball and curveball.
"I would just use whatever was working best for me on a certain day in high school," she said, "but here the hitters all adjust quickly and I really have to mix up my pitches."
DellaTorre was not initially expecting the workload she got last weekend after Bowdoin's number one pitcher, Kara Nilan '11, was injured last week. DellaTorre was told on Thursday that she would pitch in Friday's game, and after winning that game was told she would be starting again on Saturday. Although this was her biggest pitching weekend ever, DellaTorre said she only felt somewhat sore on Sunday.
"If we hadn't won the season series against Tufts, we wouldn't have made it to the playoffs," she said. "And if we sweep Bates this weekend we're definitely in, if we win two of three then we have to hope Tufts beats Trinity at least once."
"As a team, we hope to make and hopefully host NESCACs," she added, "and individually I just want to keep focusing...one pitch and batter at a time."