By Jordan J. Michael
VOORHEESVILLE –– Amanda Gatt’s stack of softball accolades has landed her a deal with Temple University. The Voorheesville senior will take her astounding pitching to the Division I level.
Gatt is a National Honor Society member who wants to study kinesiology –– the mechanics of human motion –– in college. She has racked up 580 strikeouts over the last two softball seasons, including 335 strikeouts last spring (156 1/3 innings) to break her previous Voorheesville record of 245. She said this week that she’s going to try for more strikeouts in 2013.
“It’s nice to break your own records,” Gatt said. “That’s another thing I like to work at.”
Gatt’s chances of breaking her own strikeout record in 2013 seem inevitable because, as she’s gotten older, she’s become more serious about softball. She’s been training and playing club ball for the East Coast Elite Gold. Also, she pitches practically every inning for the Blackbirds.
Most high school softball teams have two pitchers. Voorheesville has Gatt.
Playing for East Coast Elite put Gatt in touch with college coaches, but she does not take her school ball for granted.
“Voorheesville is more about the team and the games,” said Gatt. “With East Coast, everyone is nice, but we’re all competing for a spot in college. You have to stand out as much as you can.”
During the summer, fall, and winter months, Gatt travels to New Jersey once a week with Jenna Cubello and Mallory Harrigan of Guilderland for East Coast Elite activities. Temple Head Coach Joe DiPietro first saw Gatt during a tournament in Colorado last summer.
DiPietro said this week that he really likes Gatt’s presence on the mound. “She doesn’t show it if she gets hit hard and keeps a calm demeanor,” he said. “She is a hard worker that strives to be better.”
In Colorado, Gatt gave up a homerun when DiPietro was watching, but she didn’t get upset and moved on to the next batter. Gatt said that giving up homeruns can be “sad,” but she has to keep pitching and not worry about it.
“I think he liked my reaction,” Gatt said of the homerun in Colorado. “Playing as long as I have played for, I’ve been in bad situations. It helps. I don’t get too down, so I keep going.”
DiPietro said that Gatt and he share a hatred for losing. “I do hate losing,” Gatt said, “because I’m always putting forth my best effort. Losing is always a disappointment.”
Even with Gatt setting all sorts of records and getting all kinds of recognition, Voorheesville hasn’t won very many games. The Blackbirds can’t seem to get past the first round of sectionals. Gatt is hoping her senior season is special before she leaves for Philadelphia.
“I think my records have made an impact, but we still have to try and be better,” Gatt said of Voorheesville. “The goal is to win a playoff game.”
An upside for Gatt is her pitch speed. She already throws in the mid-60s, and Temple’s weight training program will probably increase that some. With her fastball already at a fantastic level, Gatt spends time working on other pitches.
“We have some good pitchers here, and I think Amanda has a chance to be special,” DiPietro said. “It’s up to her how hard she works to achieve greatness. I think she needs to work on her inside pitches to be more consistent as well as her change-up.”
Temple becomes a member of the Big East Conference on July 1, so DiPietro said he needs quality players like Gatt to be able to compete in a tougher league. DiPietro hopes that Gatt will have an immediate impact for the Owls.
“I really need to work on my other pitches, and I’ve been practicing a lot more,” Gatt said. “Once you have the speed, then it’s all about the other pitches. I’ve been throwing and throwing and staying loose. I don’t want to go backwards.”
Gatt started playing softball as a little kid, fell in love with the sport, and eventually dropped other sports to focus on softball. The hard work paid off with a scholarship to Temple. Voorheesville is a small school, but that never stopped Gatt from dreaming big.
“It’s a good feeling and I’m very grateful,” Gatt said.
Gatt doesn’t know much about big-city life, but she really likes Temple’s campus, and the people she met were nice.
“I feel safe there,” she said. “It’ll be a really cool change.”