A pair of Patterson Mill softball teammates, Dakota Pitts and Maddie Buher, recently celebrated college commitments as both, the Huskies battery, plan to play softball at their respective universities.
Pitts, a pitcher, is heading to St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey, while Buher, a catcher, is staying a little closer to home with her commitment to Stevenson University in Owings Mills.
Pitts explains how she arrived at settling on St. Peter’s. “The coach (Rich Spelma), he’s been pursuing me for a long time, but I didn’t think anything about it until probably after COVID started,” Pitts said. “So, we started talking and then I looked more into the school and they have a good bio-chemistry program and they’re a really small school.”
Pitts didn’t want to attend a big school, because she just wouldn’t like it. Although a Division I school, Pitts says St. Peter’s is not that big.
“The coach really liked me and I like him, too, and the coach says the team has a lot of science majors, so I would fit right in with them,” Pitts said.
Connections are what takes Buher to Stevenson, a Division III school.
“When I started playing for my current club team, I saw that one of my teammates had already committed to play at Stevenson and another one of my teammates was interested in playing and my coaches had connections there and so did my high school coach, Jeff Horton,” Buher said. “Being around all those people allowed me to get exposure to the school and it ultimately led me to meeting coach Julia Culotta. Meeting coach Culotta led to a lot of other opportunities. Going to a lot of clinics and showcases allowed me to see her multiple times and grow our relationship that way.”
Coach Culotta is a North Harford High School alum.
Buher will study business communications and she says she had interest in Hood College in Frederick, but said, “ultimately, Stevenson is where I wanted to be.”
“I’m not quite sure what my position is going to be on the team walking in, but I know I am having a position on the team as I talked to coach Culotta about that,” Buher said on playing as a freshman. “I already talked to a lot of the teammates, I guess, work in a lot of positions and rotate around. I know that there are some upperclassmen that are catchers, so once they rotate out, hopefully I’ll be able to fill in their position.”
Pitts, like most athletes, started at an early age. “I started at T-ball when I was four and I think I started pitching when I was nine,” Pitts recalls. “That’s when I went to my pitching coach and I still go to him now.” Pitching coach is Jay Meares.
Both girls are also teammates in the Churchville Lightning program and both are on the 18U roster coached by Dave Reed. The team had a fairly busy summer despite COVID. “We won states this year in 18U A. We were runner-up in the USSSA Nationals, Pitts said. “For that tournament, I was the most outstanding pitcher for my third time. I won it in 2018, 2019 and this year.”
Buher, who catches many of the games pitched by Pitts, loves the position. “Personally for me, I find catcher as a leadership position and I’ve always found that fascinating and I always love being a leader. Even if it’s not given, I just like to,” Buher said. “Going with catching aspects, ever since I was little, I’ve always watched St. Louis Cardinals baseball and Yadier Molina, their catcher. He’s been my favorite player since I was little and he was kind of my inspiration to become a catcher.”
Pitts is throwing seven pitches. “Two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, change up, curveball, screwball, rise ball and back door curve. Fastball is about 60 and right now I’m working on the two-seam,” Pitts said. “I haven’t thrown it in a game yet, but it looks really good, but in-game, I think my screwball is the best right now.”
Both players are goods students with Pitts carrying a weighted 4.3 GPA and Buher. a 4.625.
Both are also hoping that there will be a high school season in the spring. “I think it’s very important, especially because for me I grew up catching Madison Knight as we played together in travel ball and I also play with Dakota, so it will be really cool to finish out my senior year with the girls that I grew up playing with,” Buher said. “Also, last year, I feel we would have gone very far in playoffs. If not, then I feel like we could go far this year, so I’m just hoping we can make Patterson Mill history. It would be a very cool experience to get a state title or regional.”
Pitts said, “I really want to, I feel like we have a good chance at states. I’ve actually been looking forward to this year for a long time. If it gets canceled, I’m going to be really disappointed.”
Buher offered feelings on the chance of no season, too. “I feel like with all the frustration that’s been going on, I’ve kind of just been rolling with the punches and I’ve understood that everything is unprecedented and I’m obviously upset that I’m not able to have a senior season or a junior season,” Buher said. “If I don’t have it in March, I’m obviously going to be upset and disappointed, but I’m going to understand, it’s going to help me grow. I haven’t been able to have a lot of opportunities that other people have had, but I’m going to be able to grow further, even without these opportunities.”
There might still be softball though. “I want to join a 23U team after I graduate from Lightning, which is this year,” Pitts said. “Me and my friends, I feel like we could all join together, the one’s at Lightning. But I don’t think there’s many teams out there for 23U.”
As for the future, Pitts says she could see herself, maybe as a pitching coach, while Buher has a different plan.
“I’ve talked about this with my dad. We kind of have a deal, where after my career is over and I start coaching my own kids, or whoever I start coaching, my dad’s going to be my assistant coach,” Buher said.