Bobcats getting more pitching help with Moore
Published 10:07 am Sunday, May 28, 2023
By Jim Walker
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ATHENS — “You don’t look different but you have changed.”
These words are from a song by The Beatles entitled “I’m Looking Through You” and they couldn’t be more apropos to Keegan Moore’s situation this past season pitching as a freshman for the Ohio Bobcats’ softball team.
Moore was named first team All-Ohio her junior and senior seasons. She was also named first team All-Ohio Valley Conference and was the Player of the Year while playing for the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers.
Even though she was the same Keegan Moore and still an outstanding pitcher, she found herself in a totally different environment and at a much higher level of competition among other factors.
“It’s been different. It’s been difficult at times, but I have settled into my role on the softball team. I just go in when they need me in relief and do the best I can to get us out of whatever situation they put me into,” said Moore.
“It’s difficult for a lot of reasons. Back home, you have a community full people. Here, you’re just kind of on your own. That’s the most difficult thing going from having people and coming up here and you have support, but nothing like your hometown.”
But there were a lot of things that didn’t change.
She did go from being a starting pitcher to appearing mostly in relief, but she still put up solid numbers for a first-year player at a Division 1 school.
“I think we’ve done pretty well considering getting the new coaching staff in. You never know how the team is going to react to that. I think we’ve all accepted the coaches and hit the ground running since it all started. I think we had a pretty good season,” said Moore.
Ohio finished 32-23 on the season including 20-9 in the Mid-American Conference which was good for second place. Ohio was 1-2 against Miami in the regular season.
The Bobcats went 2-2 in the MAC tournament with both losses coming at the hands of No.1 seed Miami.
Moore appeared in 16 games including 4 as a starter and posted a 4-2 recored. She had a 1.79 WHIP average with 19 strikeouts in 36.1 innings and 14 walks. Opponents batting average against Moore was .311.
Moore’s numbers would have been more impressive if not for one bad outing against Western Michigan. Ohio won the slugfest 13-11 with Moore going 3 innings and giving up 8 hits, 8 runs of which 5 were earned.
First-year head coach Jenna Hall — an All-Big Ten and All-American during her playing days at Illinois — was very impressed with Moore’s rookie season.
“She’s doing great. The most exciting thing we’ve seen is just her progress this year as a freshman. The way she came in her velocity has increased, her ability to locate has been huge, and then she added a drop ball to her repertoire and that has helped a ton with her natural pitches. She’s developed a lot with coach (Darrick) Brown, so it’s been fun to watch her grow,” said Hall.
Moore made her college debut against Gardner-Webb on Feb. 11 at Boiling Springs, N.C. She pitched 2.1 innings allowing two hits, one unearned run with a strikeout and two walks before being relieved.
Ohio lost the game 3-2 with Moore suffering the loss.
Moore got her first career victory when Ohio beat Tennessee Tech 4-1 on March 10 in Cookeville, TN. Moore worked 4.1 innings allowing six hits, one earned run with two strikeouts and two walks.
“There were a lot of nerves. It was a great experience. It was very cool but I was extremely nervous. There’s no room (for error). You don’t want to mess up,” said Moore.
“It’s even different from travel ball and playing at the level I played at. It’s a different feel. It crazy. You’re playing against other people that are the same level as you. Even playing at LSU, you’re playing against a girl who is like you at a higher level.”
Even if the coaching staff isn’t putting pressure on Moore, her pride and work ethic makes her demand more of herself.
“Right now, I’m trying to prove myself every time I go out there to pitch. I have to prove I deserve to be on the field,” said Moore.
“So, there’s a different aspect I have in the back of my head that I didn’t have back in high school. I’m just trying to go back up the steps of the ladder to get to top.”
Hall said that she and Brown try to keep the dialogue between them going to help her learn and improve.
“We’ve always talked to her that when she hits her spots she doesn’t give up big hits. She doesn’t give up extra base hits and that’s really showed up this year. Her focusing on her location I think has been big,” said Hall.
“When a pitcher keeps it on the corner, whether it’s high, low, in or out, When you stay off the middle of the plate it makes the offenses job that much harder and I think she has really invested in locating on the corner and even off the plate to get kids to chase. When she does that, she does a really good job.”
Moore did a great job for Ironton until late last season when she stepped in a hole while pitching at Gallipolis. The injury forced her to sit out and then later she pitched despite severe pain and never regained her dominating form.
“I’m OK for the most part. There are times with it gets very sore in my leg where the muscle (that’s effected) was. They’re pretty good up here keeping everybody pretty healthy and getting you the things you need and taking a lot of ice baths. The training and recovery very here is pretty top-notch. If I need treatment, I get treatment. I think I got the break over the summer I needed (for recovery) to heal it. It’s held up well.”
Moore had another mishap in a game this past season when she was hit in the shin by a batted ball that bruised and swelled and required an ice bag and treatment.
“I was back the next weekend,” said Moore.
Ohio’s top two pitchers this past season were graduate student Kylie Coffelt and red-shirt freshman Skipp Miller. Hall said the future is bright for Moore and she is looking forward to seeing what she can do in the future with the Bobcats.
“Being a freshman is always the hardest transition being a pitcher, getting a year to develop. Both the pitchers in front of her are a little older and Coffelt is a graduate level and pitched in the ACC, so she has people ahead of her with more experience,” said Hall.
“But she’s got a handful of starts here and there and she’s been really good at coming in for us. And that’s a whole different skill as a pitcher to take that role and to be dynamic from the very first pitch. We need her in every game and she’s settled into that and helped us a ton when we need to make that change. Obviously, she wants to start more, but I think she’s accepted the role she’s in and she’s great at it and it has helped her be successful.”
And being successful is something that will never change for Keegan Moore.