The freshman phenom sits there on the aluminum bleachers prior to practice, fiddling with the glove that’s jammed into her batting helmet, still visibly uncomfortable with formal interviews.
On the field, though, labeling pitcher Jesse DeDomenico as “comfortable”would be a gross understatement. The standout on the No. 6 ranked team in the country is an undeniable star with the rare talent to dominate both sides of the game.
Her stats are staggering.
With a 0.28 ERA and a .373 batting average, DeDomenico holds a seat along the top-five pitchers in the country while anchoring one of the top offenses in the nation.
“Her stepping up as a freshman, when nobody expected her to, is a really big part of why we’re doing so well,” said junior pitcher and captain Ashley Lesch.
Rowan is currently 22-2, and the 5’6” righty is coming off her third consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference Rookie Pitcher of the Week award. She bolstered her already ridiculous numbers by accumulating a 0.00 ERA in 10 straight games.
She’s finding herself in a familiar situation at Rowan with her heavy workload. At Hightstown High School, DeDomenico was a four year starter, and the ace of the team for all four years.
“I would essentially pitch every game,” DeDomenico said.
It didn’t take long for Rowan to recognize the talent DeDomenico was displaying in high school either.
After the first day representing Mercer County in the Carpenter’s Cup as a sophomore, DeDomenico received an email from Rowan expressing their interest.
“We were impressed,” head coach Kim Wilson said. “She was playing shortstop, first base and pitching, and we just obviously knew she was a good athlete.”
DeDomenico is a unicorn in the sense that her dominance isn’t confined to just the circle. She has the ability to not only play shortstop, first base and outfield as well, but also excel at those positions all while providing a dexterity in the heart of the lineup.
In order to keep DeDomenico’s bat in the lineup when she isn’t pitching, Wilson has been working her out at first base and right field in practice so she can adapt to the positions at a collegiate level. Taking the freshman out of the lineup is no longer an option for the long-time head coach.
While DeDomenico, a self-labeled hard worker, practices at different positions, it will be her talent as a pitcher that proves to be her most valuable asset.
And that’s also a work in progress.
She currently fires the ball in the low-60 mph range — which is above average for Division III softball — and is at her best when she’s effectively throwing down and forcing ground balls. The young pitcher has proven her pitching methods are impressive, but there’s always more room for improvement.
“We’re working on a changeup with her,” Wilson said. “She throws hard enough to keep people off balance, so if she can start dominating with a changeup she’s going to be pretty unstoppable.”
DeDomenico is on the way to adding her name to the pantheon of the illustrious Rowan softball program, but her humble team-first approach won’t let the possibility bloat her ego. Her temperament and approach will remain the same—simple.
“Just the basics,” DeDomenico said. “I’m not trying to hit a home run or strike people out, just the basics.”
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