North Texas Daily

Savage in the circle: Freshman pitcher trades 3 sports for 1

Savage in the circle: Freshman pitcher trades 3 sports for 1

Savage in the circle: Freshman pitcher trades 3 sports for 1
April 01
15:30 2022

On a sunny Saturday at Lovelace Stadium, the song “21” by DaBaby plays over the PA system as freshman pitcher Skylar Savage takes the circle for the softball team.

The 6-foot-2 right-hander warms up to face her Florida Atlantic University foes, throwing practice pitches to sophomore catcher Ashlyn Walker. While the number 21 on the back of Savage’s jersey and her last name can be easily associated with widely-known artist 21 Savage, the digits on her uniform hold a meaning closer to home.

“It’s not [related to 21 Savage], my dad wore number 21,” Savage said. “We were ‘21 Savage’ before he was even a thing.”

In her debut season, Savage is making No. 21. her own for the Mean Green. The Van, Texas, native has pitched the second-most innings on the team with 68.1 while making 10 starts. Savage has compiled a 6-3 record on the season with an ERA sitting at 2.56 in 20 total appearances.
The freshman has been one of two pitchers to take the circle for the Mean Green since March 6 along with junior lefty Ashley Peters.
“[The coaching staff] told me coming in that I was going to potentially be a big part in helping out the pitching staff,” Savage said. “I just know to stay calm and know that I have a good defense behind me.”

During her time at Van High School, Savage played three sports — softball, volleyball and basketball. She earned all-state honors in both volleyball and softball over her four years at the 4A school while adding a district defensive player of the year award in basketball in 2021.
As the sport she had played the longest, Savage chose to drop the other two sports in favor of softball and continue her career in the circle.

“I always played softball growing up and my mom and my family put me into pitching when I was little,” Savage said. “I’ve just fallen in love with the sport since I was [at] a young age. I do miss volleyball and basketball, but they helped me grow with my competitive side.”

North Texas was the first school to contact Savage in her recruiting process. Head coach Rodney DeLong discovered Savage when he saw her pitching over the summer of 2020. DeLong said watching the righty pitch immediately sparked his interest in the possibility of her pitching in Denton and Savage would sign on Nov. 13, 2020.

“I saw her throwing in the summer, and I liked just the size alone and brought her to a couple camps,” DeLong said. “All the things I knew about her and learned about her and just being around her family was awesome. It was a pretty easy yes for me.”

There is precedent for freshman pitchers carving out an early role at North Texas. Last season, sophomore southpaw Janie Worthington was the third starter in a three-pitcher rotation for the Mean Green and won Conference USA Freshman of the Year honors after accumulating a 10-1 record. With six wins on the season, Savage has picked up where Worthington left off.

“[Pitching coach Jamie Allred] does a good job with [pitchers] and that plays a big part of their overall development,” DeLong said. “For Skylar, she goes from being a three-sport athlete to focusing solely on softball. I saw big potential in her.”

Savage’s battery-mate in 19 of her 20 appearances, Walker has been North Texas’ starting catcher in all but one game this season. As a young pitcher, Savage said she has “big trust” in her catcher to stop any pitch she throws.

In her second year behind the plate and working with an almost entirely new pitching staff this season, Walker said she has been comfortable with Savage on and off the field.

“Skylar is super uplifting, she always has a positive attitude,” Walker said. “She’s just the type to support you and she’s been a good teammate [since] the beginning.”

Savage has pitched three complete games this season, shutting out the opposition in two of them. She tallied a career-high eight strikeouts and went the distance against the University of Southern Mississippi on March 11. The duo of Savage and Peters has combined for 16 of the team’s 18 wins, underscoring the freshman’s early impact.

“[North Texas’ coaches] were the first people to contact me, they stayed on me,” Savage said. “It was all really strong at the beginning. I love the bond we all have here.”

About Author

Reed Smith

Reed Smith

Senior Sports Writer.

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