Softball

AnnaMarie Gatti’s changed pitching motion leads Syracuse over Virginia Tech, 2-1

Jordan Phelps | Staff Photographer

AnnaMarie Gatti went 4 2/3 innings and dominated along the way on Saturday.

At 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Syracuse head coach Mike Bosch contacted AnnaMarie Gatti ahead of the team’s game against Virginia Tech and sent a message containing a series of photos and video clips. They dated back to last fall and revealed a difference in the starting pitcher’s motion.

For a large part of the season, Gatti pitched without drawback in her motion, something she hadn’t done in years past. Today, she reverted back to the drawback and garnered her old results.

“A couple weeks back we switched to no drawback but that’s just not me,” Gatti said. “… we just both agreed let’s stick with what works and just battle through it.

Gatti’s revamped motion led to 4 2/3 innings pitched, one run allowed, and a 2-1 Syracuse (29-18, 9-10 Atlantic Coast) victory over Virginia Tech (19-33, 5-18) on Saturday. Gatti’s one-walk performance came a week after she handed North Carolina a season-high eight free bases. With four games remaining in the season, the junior already has 20 more walks than her total last season. She’s struggled with command, walking four or more batter’s in nine different games this season. On Saturday, she had no such issue.

“I think this time I finally I have found it,” Gatti said, smiling. “I really feel more confident with this motion and I felt like my stuff was moving, and was a lot harder, velocity wise.”

Midway through the second inning, Gatti gave away her lone free pass of the day. Her next pitch hit the dirt and catcher Olivia Martinez met the pitcher at the mound. Following the visit, Gatti forced several foul balls before inducing a ground out to second baseman Alicia Hansen to end the inning.

Gatti’s two strikeouts on the day came in the fifth inning just before she was pulled. First, Elizabeth Birle fanned as the late-dropping ball fell well below her bat. Then, Whitney Metz swung far ahead of Gatti’s outside change up.

“I told Anna right from the beginning she was pitching hard today,” Hansen said. “As a drop ball pitcher we expect a lot of ground balls in the infield and work on those a lot. So, it works out.”

The drop-ball pitcher induced eight ground outs, three of which didn’t make it past the pitcher’s circle. Both Bosch and Gatti acknowledged the best way to judge a drop ball pitcher is based on where the outs are coming from. Groundballs, they said, show the batter is failing to make solid contact with the ball because of its movement.

“I thought she mixed her change up in there well,” Bosch said. “She got a head ahead of batters and didn’t really put anyone on base herself. I think it was a really successful outing for her.”

Despite allowing a home run to start the inning, Gatti’s most dominant sequence of outs came in the fourth. All three outs came on ground balls which didn’t make it past the circle. Caroline Schoenewald and Jessie Mehr both just skimmed Gatti’s outside drop ball. Hannah Dossett charged Schoenewald’s dribbler and fired it to first for the second out of the inning. Gatti finished the inning all by herself as she calmly corralled the grounder from Mehr and threw the ball to first.

The pitching performance wasn’t a season best for Gatti in any statistical category, and she didn’t get the win. But this outing was different. Adding back in her old drawback led to success the former ace has rarely seen this season.

“Teammates told me ‘it looked like a whole new you today’,” Gatti said. “That was really good to hear.”

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