BY MELISSA TORRE
Senior Alyssa Bache was named the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) pitcher of the week for the second time this season for her performance March 7-13. Bache was a key player for the Spartans as she helped the team earn two wins last week against the Ferris State University Bulldogs. In the first game, Bache pitched seven innings and allowed four hits, two runs, and struck out five.
Additionally, Bache pitched the opening game in the Spartans’ three-game series against Embry-Riddle, striking out 13 batters, giving up one unearned run on three hits and walking three batters to end the week.
“I actually wasn’t expecting it this round, because I didn’t get to play Saturday because I was sick. So Makaleigh played amazing so it possibly was a toss up between me and her,” Bache said.
Although this is Bache’s first year with the team, she is by no means a stranger to the world of collegiate softball.
“I verbally committed to UF at 14,” Bache said. “And I remember my dad always saying, ‘she doesn’t know what she wants to wear in the morning let alone what college she wants to go to.’”
At her father’s request, she explored the University of Texas at Austin. She also made a list of pros and cons for each school and quickly realized all the pros were for UF so it was not a hard choice.
In her freshman year at University of Florida, the transfer made 13 appearances and finished the season with a 1.39 ERA and 5-0 record to earn SEC All-Freshman Team honors. Also during this season, Bache picked up wins against major Division I programs such as Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, Gardner-Webb, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
In her sophomore year at UF, Bache went 9-0 with 17 appearances and nine starts. She ended the season with a 1.29 ERA after 59.2 innings pitched, 11 earned runs and 55 strikeouts, leading the Gators to their fifth appearance to the Women’s College World Series.
Bache’s junior year at UF was a quieter season for the pitcher as she had five appearances in 2014, pitched 6.0 innings and recorded four strikeouts for the season.
After earning a sociology degree from UF and then taking a year off, Bache made the decision to return to the field and finish her fourth and final year of eligibility playing college ball with the Spartans.
“It’s so nice coming from Division I to DII and taking a year off and getting these awards is really powerful to me, because it actually proves ‘ok I can still do this. I can still play.’ So it’s a great feeling,” Bache said.
Although Bache and the rest of the Spartans have improved their record to 12-10, the season didn’t have the smoothest start. In an early game against Valdosta State, the team lost by 12 runs and turned in a sloppy performance on defense.
“We just got creamed, we got run rolled and it was just a wake up call for me,” Bache said.
Early struggles aside, playing for UT has been one of the best teams Bache has ever been a part of. “I really do love it here, there’s not much to not like about this school,” she said. She also feels a sense of sisterhood and true camaraderie, especially with freshmen pitcher Makaleigh Dooley who she’s taken under her wing this season.
“It’s like having a big sister, we do a lot together and we bond really well,” said Dooley.
Head coach Leslie Kanter was surprised by Bache’s leadership in this area.
“That was not a job she needed to do. I would expect it maybe out of a returning senior, but not out of a new senior so I thought it was really big of Alyssa to step up and take Makaleigh under her wing and say ‘alright I’ve been there. I’ve done it. This is what we need to do. I wanna win and it’s gonna take both us,’” Kanter said.
According to Kanter, Bache’s attitude and work ethic has been a beneficial addition to the team, and it doesn’t feel as if it is her first year playing on the team.
“We’ve enjoyed her, she came in with a great attitude, working hard, and she’s doing better each week. It’s taken her a while to get to where she used to pitch and now she’s finally getting there so we’re pleased with that,” Kanter said.