Daily Egyptian

Rotation boasts experience, readiness for season

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

The Saluki softball rotation returns three of its pitchers from last year along with a freshman who will be the No. 2 pitcher on the team this year.

Seniors Katie Bertelsen and Alyssa Wunderlich, along with sophomore Shaye Harre return to the team with the addition of freshman Savanna Dover.

Coach Kerri Blaylock said it is hard to judge the pitching because the team has not played a consistent schedule this year.

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“It’s weird because we haven’t gotten in a groove,” she said. “We’re going to tinker with what we have when we get into a more normal schedule.”

Bertelsen, who will be the No. 1 pitcher this year, returns after being named a second-team All-MVC pitcher last season, going 14-13 with a 3.72 earned run average and a .281 opponent batting average.

Bertelsen said she has to be a leader and keep control of the game.

“When I’m on the mound, I try to stay calm so other players stay calm as well,” she said. “Staying calm in those tough situations allows me to not let one run turn into seven.”

Dover has appeared in four games this year after coming to SIU from Cherokee High School in Canton, Ga., where she was All-Region, All-State and was named the Region 5 5A Pitcher of the Year in 2012.

Assistant coach Buddy Foster, who works with pitchers, said Dover needs more time to develop.

“She has all the tools to be really successful but she’s still on a learning curve,” he said. “We’re trying to get her to just go for it and stop being careful.”

Bertelesen said Dover will need to grow up quickly to fill in the role of No. 2 pitcher.

Dover said she has a long way to go, but is confident in her ability to get where she needs to be.

“It’s been a bumpy road, but I’m excited,” she said. “I can still develop more pitches and confidence in those pitches.”

Blaylock said Wunderlich will be used as a short relief pitcher because of her use of spin pitches instead of power pitches. She said Wunderlich will be used for three to four innings per appearance.

“[Wunderlich] can do a great job paired with another pitcher,” Blaylock said. “She comes in and settles us down and gets us out of a jam.”

Wunderlich led the team with a 3.13 ERA her freshman year in 2012, going 12-2. Since then, she has gone 11-13 with 1 save.

She said the relief role is something she has developed.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking at first, but my freshman year prepared me for that,” she said. “I have to stay ready and focused to come in the game at any time.”

Harre, who also plays first base for the Salukis, will be used in the circle as well this year.

She said Blaylock told her she would be used a lot this year in relief.

“I come in to try to get us out of jams and force ground ball outs,” Harre said. “I have to keep the ball low and keep the spin [on the ball] down.”

Blaylock said Harre would also be used as a starter when the team plays five games in a weekend. She said Harre is a naturally gifted pitcher and she has confidence in her ability.

Harre said she is fine with her role on the team.

“It’s a heavy load, but it’s nothing I can’t handle,” she said. “You just go in and try to get the job done, I don’t put added pressure on myself.”

The Salukis will likely use all four pitchers in their upcoming five-game Triple Crown Invitational beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico against Northern Colorado.

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269. 

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