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Behind the battery: Looking into CSU softball’s pitching, catching squad

Sydney+Hornbuckle+throws+a+pitch+against+San+Diego+State+University+at+Ram+Field+March+19%2C+2023.+Colorado+State+University+secured+a+3-2+win+over+the+Aztecs+to+finish+the+weekend+series+2-1.
Collegian | Serena Bettis
Sydney Hornbuckle throws a pitch against San Diego State University at Ram Field March 19, 2023. Colorado State University secured a 3-2 win over the Aztecs to finish the weekend series 2-1.

There is perhaps no relationship more integral to a team’s success in sports than that of the team’s pitcher and catcher.

This duo, also known as the battery, is crucial to the pace, execution and outcome of the each at-bat, inning and game.

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For Colorado State’s softball team, these relationships are built off of hours of work on and off the field, all working toward a common goal: commanding the defense through innings to bring their batters back up to the plate.

“Coach (Jen Fisher) is really pushing this year to have a team within the team with the pitching staff,” pitcher Sydney Hornbuckle said. “We’re all in support for each other.”

Hornbuckle, Danielle Serna and Reagan Wick make up CSU’s primary pitching rotation, each having pitched at least one inning per game on average this season.

With this group of three already having pitched 84.1 of the total 93.2 innings CSU has played, their execution has been paramount to the Rams’ success thus far this season.

The hard work put in before the season quickly paid off for Serna, who pitched a full-game shutout in her first start of the season against Pacific, throwing eight strikeouts.

“It’s a privilege to be a part of such a great pitching staff.” –Danielle Serna, pitcher

Carolina Buffaloe, Serna’s catcher for her shutout against Pacific, praised the work Serna put in before the season and in the game, which she said encourages and motivates the whole pitching and catching staff.

“(Serna’s) really good,” Buffaloe said. “She’s working hard every pitch and always making adjustments. She wants those outs, and we see that from her, and she’s just firing up everybody.”

With the exception of her start against No. 2 Texas, Serna has yet to give up more than two earned runs in a single appearance, helping her team’s offense tremendously.

For Serna, that success wouldn’t have been possible without the relationships and camaraderie she’s found with the pitching staff at CSU.

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“It’s a privilege to be a part of such a great pitching staff,” Serna said. “We check up on each other and genuinely care for each other as people. I think it just makes it easy to just go out there and know that I have all their backs and we have each other’s.”

When it comes to bonds within the battery, perhaps no one knows how integral they are to success more than Hornbuckle.

“I grew up with my sister being my catcher,” Hornbuckle said. “We always had a good bond, and she’s here at CSU too. I think (having a bond with your catcher) is really good, … especially when they know what my typical pitches do or where they’ll miss typically.”

Together, the twin sisters Sydney and Katelyn Hornbuckle exemplify the ways in which off-the-field bonding can contribute to game day execution. With the pitcher getting to know their catcher and the catcher getting to know their pitcher, they are able to find new ways to achieve success on the field.

Buffaloe described the sense of responsibility she feels as a catcher to form a bond with her pitchers, saying that the deeper their understanding of one another is, the easier it is to find success.

“(That relationship) is huge,” Buffaloe said. “I mean, if you don’t have a good relationship, then the chemistry on the field is not going to be there, so you definitely need that.”

Will Engle can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @willengle44.

Interested in more sports content? Sign up for Ram Report here for weekly CSU sports updates!

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About the Contributor
Serena Bettis
Serena Bettis, Editor in Chief
Serena Bettis is your 2022-23 editor in chief and is in her final year studying journalism and political science. In her three years at The Collegian, Bettis has also been a news reporter, copy editor, news editor and content managing editor, and she occasionally takes photos, too. When Bettis was 5, her family moved from Iowa to a tiny town northwest of Fort Collins called Livermore, Colorado, before eventually moving to Fort Collins proper. When she was 8 years old, her dad enrolled at Colorado State University as a nontraditional student veteran, where he found his life's passion in photojournalism. Although Bettis' own passion for journalism did not stem directly from her dad, his time at CSU and with The Collegian gave her the motivation to bite down on her fear of talking to strangers and find The Collegian newsroom on the second day of classes in 2019. She's never looked back since. Considering that aforementioned fear, Bettis is constantly surprised to be where she is today. However, thanks to the supportive learning environment at The Collegian and inspiring peers, Bettis has not stopped chasing her teenage dream of being a professional journalist. Between working with her section editors, coordinating news stories between Rocky Mountain Student Media departments and coaching new reporters, Bettis gets to live that dream every day. When she's not in the newsroom or almost falling asleep in class, you can find Bettis working in the Durrell Marketplace and Café or outside gazing at the beauty that is our campus (and running inside when bees are nearby). This year, Bettis' goals for The Collegian include continuing its trajectory as a unique alt-weekly newspaper, documenting the institutional memory of the paper to benefit students in years to come and fostering a sense of community and growth both inside the newsroom and through The Collegian's published work. Bettis would like to encourage anyone with story ideas, suggestions, questions, concerns or comments to reach out to her at editor@collegian.com.

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