There are few relationships more important in sports than the one between a pitcher and catcher. It’s a give-and-take bond that can produce havoc for a defense when the two aren’t in sync.
The chemistry it takes to own a count or go for a strikeout is even harder to create when the two are 43 feet away from each other, forced to communicate through head nods and hand signals.
But somehow, sophomore pitcher Madi McCrady and senior catcher Natalie Alvarez have created a dominant alliance.
“There has to be a comfort with your catcher,” Ohio coach Kenzie Roark said. “You work hard for each other. Catchers have a very thankless job, so when they get us a strike, we’re like, ‘Hey good job on that.’”
McCrady and Alvarez’s comfort level has helped produce one of the best defenses in the Mid-American Conference. Ohio (28-17, 9-6 MAC) currently has the 3.51 ERA, third-best in the MAC.
But it took time for the two to become comfortable with each other. Alvarez had already spent her career bonding with Savannah Jo Dorsey and Danielle Stiene.
Alvarez also noticed that McCrady was one of the more shy members on the team in her freshman year.
“Probably like a month it took for her to open up to the team,” Alvarez said.
But soon McCrady would open up her personality and her skillset. According to Alvarez, McCrady wasn’t Jo Dorsey or Stiene; she was a mix of both. Alvarez now knows she’s playing with another great Ohio pitcher.
Growing pains, however, still have to be worked out.
The sophomore is still young, and there are times she will make mistakes, but it’s how she handles it that determines how effective she’ll be for the Bobcats in the near future.
Luckily for McCrady there’s a veteran just 43 feet away.
“Sometimes she doesn’t trust herself fully,” Alvarez said. “So it makes me happy when she gets a strikeout, that’s what you can do every time.”