Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WILLIAMSPORT — For the first two years of her high school career, Marcy Dudgeon was an outfielder … and a darn good one at that.
But when Westfall bid farewell to starting pitcher Emily Robinson after last year’s 10-2 loss to Chesapeake in a Division III district semifinal, Dudgeon’s career path followed a different path.
Knowing she’d soon be called upon to take over the Mustangs’ pitching duties, Dudgeon kept her head down and continued to work on a new craft. Her offseason work is now paying off.
So far this spring, you’d never know that the junior had never taken on primary pitching responsibilities before. Westfall, with Dudgeon in the circle and at 13-1, hasn’t missed a beat.
We had a chance to catch up with Marcy and discuss her transition to the circle, what she does with the bat in her hands, her team expectations this year and much, much more.
Question: How did you approach sliding into a pitching role and how have you handled the transition so far?
Dudgeon: I knew at the end of last season that we would be losing our pitcher. I pitched when I was younger, and it instantly became a goal of mine to become the number one pitcher. I worked towards that because I knew I had to help my team out, and I knew that once I set my mind to something, I could accomplish anything. It has been very important to me that I keep my head clear and positive while I’m pitching. My team and [Westfall coach] Fred [Redman] has definitely helped tremendously with that. Whenever I have an off game, or what I think is an off game, he sits me down and tells me ‘I wouldn’t have you in the circle if I didn’t trust you to be there.’ So my approach has been just relaxing, and doing the best I can because that’s what I am here to do.
Q: You’ve always been a team player in every aspect. So when Fred asked you to step up, what was your initial reaction?
MD: Of course I was nervous at first because a pitcher is one of the biggest roles on the team. But Fred has been my coach for, going on, five years now. I knew he wouldn’t ask me to do something he knew I couldn’t do. He helped me prepare all through the offseason and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. There was so many past coaches throughout my career that told me I would never be a pitcher, that I would never see the field as a JV pitcher, let alone a varsity pitcher. And there was so many times I wanted to give up. But Fred always told me ‘I need you to keep pushing. Someday, I will need you to pitch for me.’ That’s what kept me going.
Q: What was the hardest part of the position change?
MD: The hardest part would definitely be letting go of my comfort zone, which has been the outfield for me. I’ve played there for as long as I can remember, and I had little to no experience in the circle, or the infield. I’ve used what I’ve learned about leading from center field, and transitioned that into the circle. I’m getting more comfortable being in the circle every game. It has definitely been hard to fully accept that being in the circle has become my full-time role because I’ve always been a backup pitcher. But this has made me work a thousand times harder to fill that role, and I wouldn’t change a thing about the process.
Q: Now that you’re in the circle and comfortable, what are the pros and cons?
MD: I’ve honestly come to love being in the circle every single game. I have an awesome group of defenders behind me, and they always have my back and are always hyping me up. We share a lot of laughs on the field so they keep it really fun for me. I honestly don’t have any cons, except for the fact that I don’t want to let my team down. We’ve had a really good start to the season, sitting at 13-1, so we’re setting ourselves up for a great tournament run.
Q: At the plate, you haven’t stopped raking. Take us through an at-bat. What makes you such a good hitter?
MD: When I was younger, I struggled tremendously with hitting, and that was my greatest weakness. When I learned to slap, that definitely became my strength and I’ve had huge successes with that. This year, I’ve jumped up to the leadoff batter position because our leadoff Darby [Minor] is injured. So when I step into the box, I just have to clear my mind and know that I have a job to do. My team needs me on base and I have to do anything to get on base.
Q: Overall, what are your team expectations this season?
MD: We have huge goals this season, with the first being to win the SVC and, more importantly, the Gold Ball. We have put ourselves in a great position to be able to achieve that goal. Then, of course, we want to make a big tournament run because we want to get back to the regional tournament like we did freshman year. We have huge goals. I hope we can accomplish them.