Pitch perfect

By TED WADDELL
Posted 6/2/21

ELDRED, NY — Dana Donnelly is a force to be reckoned with, as she dominates the mound for Eldred’s varsity softball team this season.

On Friday, May 14, the Lady Yellowjackets pitcher …

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Pitch perfect

Posted

ELDRED, NY — Dana Donnelly is a force to be reckoned with, as she dominates the mound for Eldred’s varsity softball team this season.

On Friday, May 14, the Lady Yellowjackets pitcher etched her name into the chronicles of local high school athletics by pitching a perfect game in a homestand against the previously undefeated Lady Spartans by blanking S.S. Seward 6-0.

Eldred continued its winning ways by posting a 5-0 record, as on that momentous afternoon, Donnelly hurled strike after strike, sending the opposition back to their seats during what her coach called “a perfect game.”

On Tuesday, May 18, the battery of Donnelly and catcher Lily Gonzalez took center stage, backed up by some good play in the infield and beyond, to record a 15-0 victory over the visiting softballers of Sullivan West.

According to Eldred’s head varsity softball coach Rick Whitney—no stranger to the game of baseball in his own right—the perfect game of baseball or softball can be defined in just a few words: “Nobody reaches first base,” he said. To add a bit more meat to the bone, he continued, “She’s got to make her pitches, and the defense has to work well.”

Reflecting on the perfect game, Whitney said, “Nothing was really hit hard that day... a two-hopper to third, Molly McKerrell fielded it for the out, and after that, a couple of soft hits. Everything else was pop-ups. She was in command the whole game—a lot of strikes. And all four pitches were working beautifully.”

Donnelly started playing softball as a four-year-old with a local little league before moving up to a traveling team, having played for the Ui16 Phantoms of Pro Prospects, where she picked up the sobriquet “The Dananator.”

“I just fell in love with the game”, recalled the 16-year-old junior, now in her fourth year on varsity. “I like the competition; I like feeling the pressure, and winning with my team.”

Donnelly relies upon a medley of pitches to get the job done: a curve, a fastball, a change-up and what she calls a two-seam drop.

“I throw a two-seam drop, which is kind of like a curveball, and throw it with a drop lean, so it’s like a drop curve,” a description that had this sports scribbler scrambling on Google search, but he struck out.

“She’s great kid,” said Whitney of his ace pitcher, and of the battery duo of Donnelly and Gonzalez, “They’re are the best I’ve ever seen. Lily blocks almost everything and throws out almost 95 percent of runners...”

“It was a very emotional day. She’s a very, very hard worker and makes every practice. Every weekend, she’s there,” said Donnelly’s coach of the perfect game and his starter, adding, “It was a very rare feat, like making a hole in one in golf... Something to look back on later in life when their softball careers are over. [Of] all the thousands of games I played and coached, this was the first one.”

His goals for the season?

Wrap up the year with a perfect record and getting the players to buy “into what I’m trying to teach them about the game of baseball, with a very strong mentality... If they listen, I can really help them a lot.”

Of the pitch-perfect homestand, Donnelly said with Yellowjackets pride, “It’s our home! I’m really speechless and grateful to my team. We put everything together and got the win.”

After graduating from the home of the Yellowjackets next year, Donnelly said she envisions continuing her softball career in college. She wants to become a middle school teacher and coach because, “I feel that’s a good age to get them going” in sports.

Her take on the season?

“So far, it’s been unbelievable. I knew we were going to have a good season because I’ve been playing with these girls for a while... I hope to undefeated, but you never know.”

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