Sarah Tuthill sounds understandably excited about her new opportunity. Her calmness should help.
The Southold/Greenport high school softball team’s new starting pitcher has a calm demeanor that may be ideally suited for what could be considered the sport’s most pressure-packed position. And that calmness can act like a contagion.
“She keeps me calm,” Rosemary Volinski, a sophomore catcher, said. “In a play, I just look into her eyes and she’s fine.”
If Tuthill, a junior, has the most pressure-filled job, Volinski may have the most demanding. Both of them find themselves filling new roles with the graduations of pitcher Courtney O’Sullivan and catcher Wendy Peterson.
O’Sullivan had been a fixture in the Clippers’ pitching circle for over three years. Last year, Tuthill played mostly third base and a little shortstop, but also saw some sporadic pitching duty in preparation for this year, with the Clippers even more reliant on her right pitching arm.
“We have been gradually giving her [pitching] time so last year, depending on the game situation, I tried to give her some solid exposure with really tough teams and some confidence-builders with some teams that I knew that we could really compete with,” coach Lori Marra said during Monday’s practice. “I tried to give her little tastes of what it’s going to be like because I knew this year I was going to be depending quite a bit on her.”
Tuthill’s pitching background started when she was in Little League. “I wasn’t very good but I’ve been trying to stick with it and see if I can get better,” she said.
Tuthill doesn’t have a vast array of pitches to choose from. She said she throws fastballs and changeups. Her strength as a pitcher, Marra said, is the sense of calm she projects in the pitching circle. “Whether she is or not, she always appears calm and collected,” said the coach.
While it may not appear that she gets rattled, Tuthill is human after all. She acknowledged that, like anyone else, she does get nervous at times “but you can’t show it. You can’t let the batter know or you can’t let your team know so you got to keep calm.”
Although Jessica Rizzo, a utility player, can catch, too, it seems as if Volinski will get the first crack at the catching job. She played some catcher in Little League before last year when she was asked to catch for the junior varsity team.
“No one else wanted to be catcher so I was like, ‘I might as well try it,’ and I liked it,” she said. “… You get to sit behind the plate and you get to see the whole field.”
Marra said Volinski is athletic, strong and fast. “She has a lot of great qualities for a catcher,” said Marra.
Entering a season with a new battery can cause a team some unease but Volinski voiced confidence in Tuthill’s pitching ability.
“She’s amazing,” the catcher said. “She’s going to do great. I can tell.”