The Daily Aztec

Senior softball pitcher overcomes rocky start

Senior+pitcher+Alex+Formby+stands+on+the+pitchers+mound+during+the+Aztecs+11-1+loss+against+Boise+State+at+SDSU+Softball+Stadium+on+March+31.+
Senior pitcher Alex Formby stands on the pitchers mound during the Aztecs 11-1 loss against Boise State at SDSU Softball Stadium on March 31.

Senior pitcher Alex Formby stands on the pitchers mound during the Aztecs 11-1 loss against Boise State at SDSU Softball Stadium on March 31.

Photo by Perla Sanchez

Photo by Perla Sanchez

Senior pitcher Alex Formby stands on the pitchers mound during the Aztecs 11-1 loss against Boise State at SDSU Softball Stadium on March 31.

by Abraham Jewett, Sports Editor

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San Diego State senior softball pitcher Alex Formby sat on the team bus, listening to music with one of her closest friends, junior pitcher Julie McDonald.

They kept listening to one song. It’s theme was simple: tomorrow is a new day.

Hours earlier, Formby had been standing in the pitcher’s circle, during the first inning of the first game of the Aztecs season opening tournament appearance in the Kajikawa Classic back in February.

Formby was chosen to start the opener against the University of Georgia, a formidable opponent which came into the year ranked No. 25 in the country.

Bulldogs senior outfielder Cortni Emanuel came up to the plate to begin the game, and Formby readied herself to throw her first pitch.

Emanuel singled to get on base, stealing second and scoring after Formby gave up a walk to sophomore infielder Justice Milz and a three-run home run to junior infielder Alyssa DiCarlo.

Formby was able to calm herself and retire the next two batters, but they would be the the last two outs she would get.

Formby’s final statline for the game: 0.2 innings pitched, eight hits, 11 earned runs in a 23-2 five-inning loss.

Formby ­— along with some of her teammates and coaches ­— spoke to The Daily Aztec in February about herself and her performance.

“I’ve never been beat that bad in my entire life,” Formby said.

It was a crushing start to the season for the player from Mater Dei High School, who transferred to SDSU following her freshman year at the University of Virginia.

“I felt like I let down my team,” Formby said. “We’ve worked so hard, and then to come out and start that way was really rough.”

It would have been easy for Formby to hang her head and give up, but instead she went out and pitched a scoreless inning that very same evening in a 4-0 loss to Stanford.

Formby continued to pitch during the Kajikawa Classic – a six-game in three day event – and gave up no earned runs for the rest of the tournament, throwing 16.2 innings with 13 strikeouts.

“After the first game (Formby) was unbelievable, and that shows a lot of mental fortitude for her to come back strong like that,” head coach Kathy Van Wyk said. “It could have ruined some pitchers season to be beat around that much, not even make it out of the first inning in the first game of the season, but she showed a lot of fortitude coming back strong.”

Van Wyk credited much of that mental fortitude to Formby’s growth since she first came to the Mesa, after struggling to a 3-14 record and 7.30 earned run average during her 2015 freshman season at Virginia.

“I’ve seen (Formby) grow up so much, when I think back to when she first got here from her sophomore season,” Van Wyk said. “She was already lacking confidence, and it was partly because of a rough time in her freshman year, and then (being) a new person feeling her way around.”

Formby also seperated from her identical twin sister, Andie, who played softball alongside her at Virginia.

“I think that (Formby and her sister) made a conscious decision when they left Virginia and decided to transfer to split up,” Van Wyk said. “Its allowed (Formby) to really blossom herself and not worry about what everybody else is thinking about her sister or anybody.”

Van Wyk said that Formby’s new freedom has allowed her to take off as her own person, and for her unique personality to shine through.

“(Splitting from her sister) has really turned (Formby) into a more independent person,” Van Wyk said. “She’s extremely smart, she’s extremely thoughtful, she’s extremely hardworking…its given her a lot more confidence in herself not worrying about the other half of her, and just going and being what she needs to be.”

Formby would eventually give up a run during the Aztecs 5-0 loss to the University of Kentucky on Feb. 15, ending a streak of 18.1 consecutive innings pitched without giving up an earned run.

18.1 innings pitched since that first inning.

“The Georgia game was really an outlier for her performance this year,” assistant head coach Stacey Nuveman Deniz said. “She’s been solid in that relief roll, really shutting down teams no matter who it is.”

One factor that cannot be overlooked when evaluating Formby’s initial performance is the quality of opponent that Georgia is.

The team is currently ranked No. 6 in the country and has a record of 31-4.

In the Bulldogs victories this season they have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 245-30.

“You see a big name and you see their stats and you know how good they are,” Formby said. “Instead of reading into all that next time I’m just going to play the game like I know how.”

The defeat was hard for everybody on the Aztecs, a proud team with a winning heritage, that came into the year on a run of 12 straight seasons with 30 wins or more.

“You almost have to laugh and joke, like it didn’t happen, because it was so ridiculously bad,” Van Wyk said. “I went back and watched tape and tried to see how much of it was us and how much of it was them, and it was a combination of both.”

SDSU finished the Kajikawa Classic with only one win in six games, and while it was a long opening weekend, the support that Formby received from her teammates never wavered.

“It was awesome to see (Formby) bounce back from a tough loss to Georgia, and a tough weekend for everyone, really,” junior catcher Molly Sturdivant said.

Formby credited her teammates with helping her get over her rocky start, and said it allowed her to take the necessary mental steps forward.

“It definitely helps you move on because it’s important for me to let it go, but sometimes you need to get out of your own head,” Formby said. “Having other people remind you ‘we’re not judging you based on that game, we know your better than that’, it’s really, really nice.”

One thing that Formby draws support from is her inclusion into an exclusive club, or more specifically, a pitchers club.

“Pitchers have a bond,” Formby said. “Me, (sophomore pitcher Marissa Moreno) and (McDonald), we stick together we’re like a trio, got to have eachothers back.”

Moreno agreed that pitchers have a special bond, and credited Formby with helping her feel more at home during her first year of college.

“Last year she really helped me a lot,” Moreno said. “Overcoming my fear (of the) college experience, and I mean I’ve developed and she’s helped me along this way.”

The team has struggled this season while putting together a record of 10-23, but Formby has remained a consistent presence in the pitchers circle.

“The way (Formby) carries herself on the mound, everybody feels comfortable with her when she’s out there,” Van Wyk said. “She’s come into her own, feels good about what she’s doing and I think she’s proven herself.”

Formby was named the Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Week back in February, and currently leads the team with an earned run average of 2.58 while limiting opposing batters to an average of .214.

Formby’s play on the mound this season has made it clear that she is no longer looking towards tomorrow.

Her time is now.

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