Arms Race

by Alanna Grady / Beacon Staff • March 29, 2012

Jordan graham softball 5
Alex Magistro fires in a pitch • Jordan Graham / Beacon Archive
Jordan Graham/ Beacon Archive
Alex Magistro fires in a pitch • Jordan Graham / Beacon Archive
Jordan Graham/ Beacon Archive

Kelsey Tuthill and Alex Magistro torment opposing batters on a regular basis. The senior and sophomore have amassed 33 wins over the last two seasons for Emerson’s softball team, but their pitching methods not only differ in style — they sound different, too.

When Tuthill pitches, one can hear the zip of the ball, the pop of the catcher’s glove, and the groans from the opposing team’s dugout. 

With Magistro on the hill, her off-speed pitches that paint the corners of the strike zone draw quizzical and frustrated looks from opposing hitters — a quieter approach, yet just as effective. 

The success of their alternating styles can be measured by the 6-0 conference record that the two players have helped their team achieve to begin the season.

“They are two of the hardest working throwers in the league,” said head coach Phil McElroy. “They bring good attitudes, positivity, and unique attitudes to our team.”

Tuthill, one of the team’s senior captains, is coming into the 2012 season after being named Great Northeast Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year at the end of last year. She previously received the award in 2009 as a freshman, when she was named GNAC Rookie of the Year as well. The player said that her long career in the conference is helpful but at times challenging.

“I’ve been here for four years, so I can recognize certain girls,” the communication sciences and disorders major said. “I know how to pitch to certain batters. Other batters have seen me for four years, too, and know how I pitch. That makes it a little bit tougher.”

Tuthill was also named to the all-conference first team in 2011 and is currently eighth on the list for career number of strikeouts in the GNAC.

That sort of experience, Magistro said, makes Tuthill a good mentor to younger players.

“Kelsey is like a big sister to me,” said the sophomore screenwriting major. “She’s taught me how to deal with things on and off the field.”

Magistro had her own success as a freshman. Last April, she was named both GNAC Pitcher and East Coast Conference Division III Co-Pitcher of the Week after throwing a no-hitter against Mount Ida College.

Tuthill humbly acknowledged that while she may be more familiar with other college players on opposing teams, she doesn’t want to overstep her bounds.

“I try to keep them focused and positive,” she said. “If there are questions, I’ll answer them, but I know every pitcher has her own unique style.”

McElroy described the techniques used by each of his players that have been so effective this season.

“Alex has more of a rise ball and a curve ball, and maybe hits a little bit harder,” said McElroy. “Kelsey doesn’t use a rise ball as much, but uses more movement and location.”

Tuthill described her own style as more power over finesse, while Magistro said that she has had to make some adjustments to the way she throws, developing her off-speed pitches to be successful at a collegiate level.

“I’ve learned that the GNAC is a completely different animal when it comes to throwing,” she said. “I’ve had to tailor my pitching style. Now it’s more about in and out, not speed, like it was in high school.”

The tandem bring more to the field than just their pitching skills. McElroy said that his players are power threats at the plate, and their versatility contributes to the team’s success.

“The fact that we have two pitchers that can be relied upon is pretty special,” the coach said. “They are all-around players who are in every game, and besides pitching, they’re our fourth and fifth batters.”

Magistro has seven runs batted in on the season. Tuthill has 21. Against Suffolk earlier this season, she started at first base and went yard while Magistro pitched a complete game.

Throughout all of their success, both girls have emphasized having fun, an outlook expressed in their big smiles and ability to laugh at themselves. Both are solely focused on their team, and as Tuthill put it, there is only one thing on their minds: “We want to take back the GNAC.”