Alexis Dawe digs into the left handed batter’s box. She holds her hands high above her head as she awaits an offering. The pitcher winds and deals. Dawe tenses up as she eyes the ball. Her hands move forward. The bat makes contact with the pitch, creating a reverberating noise that rings out throughout the stadium. For Dawe, this moment is a small one, but it was years in the making.
Growing up in Valley Springs, California, a town of just over 3,780, Dawe needed to do everything in her power to stand out. Dawe points to the fact that the small town created a lot of interesting opportunities for her to learn more about softball.
“Coming from a small town, high school was interesting,” Dawe said. “It wasn’t super competitive, so it was my time to go out and really have fun while playing softball. That kind of took the pressure off.”
In her time at Calaveras High School, Dawe put up prolific numbers. Not only did she record a hit in over half of her at bats in her senior season, she did so while driving in an astounding 48 runs.
Dawe knew that her talents would propel her out of Valley Springs. In fact, she had aspirations to see her talents translate beyond even her home state of California.
“I knew I didn’t want to go to school in California,” Dawe said. “I wanted to get out and try something different while I had the opportunity to do so. It just so happened that (the Ohio coaches) saw me play. I came out here (to Athens). My dad told me, ‘We’ll go out there. It’s across the country, so you’ll realize really fast whether you like it.’ We came out in January and it was snowy but I loved it.”
Snow or not, Dawe saw herself in a Bobcat uniform for the next four years. Her commitment meant that she would be competing for her spot to be the next star at the plate. In her freshman season, 2020, Dawe made her mark. Starting in 24 of 26 games in the shortened season for the Bobcats, Dawe had a stellar season. She hit .275 with 19 hits, five of them for extra bases.
Her sophomore season saw her numbers decline a bit. Her average dipped almost 20 points while she struggled to adjust to seeing more offspeed pitches. Dawe’s junior season that followed was one to forget, as she only appeared in 10 games.
“(I learned that) no matter where you are, what your role is on the team, you can make a difference,” Dawe said. “I learned how to pick pitches very easily and I was able to pick out a lot of changeups to help the batters out and just be the loudest person in the dugout. I felt that, by doing that, I actually made a difference on our team.”
If Dawe made a difference on the team serving as the biggest cheerleader, then the difference she is making as one of the marquee hitters for Ohio this year is incalculable. Dawe is hitting .355 with nine extra-base hits and 24 RBI. Although she was never known for her ability to hit the ball out of the yard, she has hit two home runs this season.
Dawe attributes her rapid ascension to the fact that she has improved on the non-physical skills.
“Our coaches have been working on the mental game,” Dawe said. “I know I have always been capable of doing this. I’ve always had the skill; that was never the problem. It was just the mental side of the game and I’ve been able to just stay calm in every situation.”
Moreover, the new coaching staff that Jenna Hall has brought in have seemed to give everyone a breath of fresh air. Dawe said that her struggles over the past few seasons have been eased by the new coaches and that it was “the best thing that could have happened to me."
This season, Dawe has shown what she is capable of with a renewed mindset and increased playing time.
“I was just able to take the pressure off myself,” Dawe said. “I began to believe in myself again and felt like everyone around me, teammates, coaches, did too. That’s what really made the difference.”
Dawe has been a key cog in the lineup for the Bobcats this season. As her performance has blossomed, so has Ohio. Her 10-game hitting streak partially overlapped with Ohio’s identical winning streak.
The correlation between Dawe getting hits and the team winning is far from a fluke. Dawe being one of the biggest contributors for the Bobcats goes to show that every player is capable of having their time in the sun; all it takes is for them to get the right time and the right situation to thrive.