Duffy, Goletz give Central two options in the pitching circle
Pick your poison.
It’s just as difficult to get a hit off one as the other.
There’s no question Colorado has some impressive high school softball pitchers competing in this weekend’s state tournament.
Shelby Babcock, a junior at Legacy High School, the second-seeded team in the Class 5A tournament, leads the state with 234 strikeouts in 19 games.
Columbine’s Kelsey O’Brien’s rise ball has claimed 175 strikeout victims in 16 games.
One thing those teams can’t claim is having an equally strong No. 2 pitcher.
That’s the asset Central carries into Friday’s round of 16 at Aurora Sports Park when it faces Ralston Valley at 10 a.m..
The Warriors (19-3) possess arguably the best one-two combo in the state.
Sophomore left-hander Mikayla Duffy (11-2) has pitched in 14 of the Warriors’ 22 games. She’s given up only five earned runs and 22 hits in 612/3 innings, striking out 86 batters.
Ashley Goletz, a senior right-hander (8-1), has appeared in 12 games. As with Duffy, she’s given up only five earned runs in her 64 innings and struck out 100 batters.
Duffy’s earned-run average is 0.57; Goltez’s is 0.55. The two have allowed only 14 extra-base hits and 44 walks in a combined 125 innings.
So what makes Duffy so dominant? According to Goletz, she has two things working in her favor.
“The left-handed thing is definitely hard (for opposing batters),” Goletz said.
That makes her out pitch even more effective.
“Her screwball is really good because it curves the other way,” Goletz said. “It works just like a curveball for right-handers.”
Duffy is just as complimentary about her fellow pitching ace.
“Watching (Goletz) as a senior, I’ve learned a lot,” Duffy said.
Longtime valley softball coach Wayne Guccini worked with both pitchers at a young age.
“It’s all about the work ethic they put in,” said Guccini, who began helping Goletz with her pitching when she was 10 and starting working with Duffy when she was 8.
“They’ve both taken their own path,” Guccini said of each pitcher’s development.
When one is pitching, the other plays first base.
“I know how to calm her down and she knows how to calm me down,” Duffy said.
While some pitchers want the spotlight, Duffy and Goletz said having the other to rely on takes the pressure off them.
“If I’m having a bad day, I have confidence in her,” Goletz said.
“I know Ashley can be on and she could come in at any time,” Duffy said.
The fact that they pitch from opposite sides helps.
“It’s nice to have a righty and a lefty,” Central head coach Sabrina Juarez said.
Their catcher, Danielle Romine, said that although both have their wild moments, they’re both relatively easy to catch.
“They throw the ball a lot different,” Romine said. “I think Mikayla’s a little bit easier because she’s left-handed. It took me awhile to learn Mikayla’s screwball goes the other way.
“Ashley kind of fools you. She’s got a lower windup but a faster wrist snap.”
Juarez takes comfort in knowing if one is having an off game, the other is there at the ready.
“I know I can put either one in and know we’ve got somebody as good, if not better, pitching,” Juarez said.