By DEVON CONWAY
Keep swinging, the catcher likes the cool breeze. Sophomore pitcher Makaleigh Dooley sure felt this way after her two wins against the Chadron State Eagles and the Eckerd College Tritons in the Eckerd Tournament in Clearwater on Feb. 4 and 5. After Dooley’s stellar performance, she earned Sunshine State Conference (SSC) pitcher of the week.
“It feels awesome to be pitcher of the week,” Dooley said. “I’m honored and thankful to have such a great team backing me up. I really couldn’t have done it without them.”
In Dooley’s first game in almost a year as pitcher for the Spartans, she recorded a 3-1 win against Eckerd College. She only allowed four hits and a walk while striking out seven Triton batters.
“The game I had seven strikeouts was the first game I’ve played in about 10 months now because I wasn’t eligible for the fall,” Dooley said. “I really was just so excited to be back out on the field with my teammates, so that was a really fun game for me. The energy was up in the dugout and the intensity on the field was great. We are really satisfied with the way things turned out this weekend.”
Just a day later, Dooley was on the mound again pitching for the Spartans while they took on the Eagles. Dooley pitched a perfect game shutout and recorded seven strikeouts, again. Dooley was also able to contribute to the scoring aspect of the game. She hit a single to the shortstop, allowing junior out fielder Sahrina Cortes to score from second base and put the Spartans on the scoreboard.
The Eagles were only able to get three hits during the seven innings and drew one walk. With Dooley’s superb play against Eckerd College and Chadron State, she is currently 2-0. For the tournament during the weekend, the Spartans recorded an 8-1 win over Chadron State, a 3-1 win over Eckerd, and a 2-0 win over Chadron State.
Head coach Leslie Kanter was very impressed with Dooley’s performance during the weekend.
“I thought she pitched phenomenally for our first weekend out,” Kanter said. “She didn’t get to play in any fall games, so I was interested to see how she would handle the situation. When she got to play this Spring, I think she did great. She was pitcher of the week in the conference and she struck out a few batters. I think she is going to get stronger as the season goes on and play a big role for us this year.”
Dooley has high hopes and expectations for herself and the Spartans for this season.
“Some goals for this upcoming season would be for me to keep my earned run average under a one,” Dooley said. “I know some goals for my team would be to play our hardest every single game and to keep the mental errors to a minimum. Of course a huge goal for us would be nationals, but for now we’re taking it game by game, just trying to get better everyday.”
Dooley and the Spartans took on Flagler, Georgia Southwestern, and Newberry this past weekend. The Spartans fell short to Flager 5-0, but beat Georgia Southwestern 7-0 in the first game and 7-3 in the second game. The Spartans also beat Newberry 10-2. The Spartans are set to play Rollins College on February 17th and 18th in a three game matchup.
“We missed post season last year for the first time in a while, so our plan is to get back to post season,” Kanter said. “If we can win the conference while doing that, it will just be a bonus. Our main goal is to make regionals.”