In three years, Dom Pinto has matured as a person and as a softball player. Pinto, who was a top-flight catcher at Council Rock North, is now a first baseman at the University of Connecticut where she’s finishing her junior season.
She and her teammates will conclude their regular season this weekend with a series in Tulsa and then stay there for next week’s American Athletic Conference tournament
Pinto, who has started 43 of her team’s 46 games, entered the week hitting .227 with three home runs and a team-best 26 RBIs. She also leads the Huskies in doubles with 10. There have been adjustments to make, on the field and off.
One of them has been changing positions. Pinto spent her freshman season as a catcher and designated player. But when new coach Jen McIntyre took over the program in the summer of 2014 she found herself in need of a first baseman and Pinto moved out from behind the plate.
“I definitely overcame some things with position change,” she said. “It was definitely something new. My travel ball coaches always stressed the importance of having more than one position (But) I caught virtually every game of my career; I didn’t move around a lot.”
As a result, Pinto learned her new position through on-the-job training. “It was almost like I learned the position as I was playing it,” she said. “I learned from my mistakes and tried not to make them a second time. My coaches were really great with me in the transition. It happened really quickly because our first baseman ended up getting hurt; that’s why they needed me over there.”
In short order, Pinto found herself enjoying her new home. “I always liked catching because I was in every play, honestly,” she said. “I could have good command on the field. But first base is pretty much the same thing, it’s just not as many plays. It’s just a different corner.”
There were adjustments to make at the plate as well. The 21-year old Pinto understands that every play appearance is precious. Over the course of her college career she has altered her approach at the plate with that philosophy in mind.
“It’s having the right mentality going into each at bat,” she said. “There are a lot of at bats in high school and travel ball where you can just coast and still get lucky. At the college level there’s a limited amount of opportunity you’re going to get to play, so you definitely have to capitalize on the opportunity. I feel a lot more comfortable in the box this year just being an upperclassman.”
At the Division I level hitters see quality pitching game in and game out. “At this level, everybody’s going to go right at you,” Pinto says. “They’re always going to push the limits of what they can do against you.
It’s definitely taken a lot more focus, laying off pitches. I was always a riseball hitter when I was younger and since I hit college I am officially not a riseball hitter. You see pitches and they look so good. But they are so out of the zone. Every single pitch, the majority of the time, is going to be a good one. It’s rare you get a mistake pitch to capitalize on.”