Dorsey follows in mom's star footsteps

Savannah Dorsey, a senior pitcher at Central Crossing (Grove City, Ohio) who posted a 0.66 ERA and struck out 295 batters last season, committed to her mom's alma mater, Ohio University. Courtesy of Emmaleigh Ballard

The idea came to Savannah Dorsey faster than the spinning wheel in her ceramics class at Central Crossing (Grove City, Ohio). What better way to make the most out of her art project than to create a Mother's Day gift?

Savannah dug in, quickly throwing the clay on the wheel and spinning a bowl that she would later paint horses on, symbolizing the love she and her mother share for the animal.

Savannah, a senior pitcher at Central Crossing and one of the best pitchers in the entire state of Ohio, will present her mom and high school coach, Rona Dorsey, with the bowl on Sunday for Mother's Day. But it was a move Savannah made last November that may be her mom's favorite gift.

Coming off the first-team All-State accolades she earned during her junior season, Savannah decided to commit to play softball for Ohio University, the same institution her mother played for back when softball didn't get anywhere near the national attention it receives now.

"As I was going through the recruiting process she acted like I could go wherever I wanted," Savannah said. "But when I finally decided to go to OU, I could see how excited she was."

Rona is a softball legend at OU, and still turns heads and awakens storytellers every time she sets foot on campus. But she has always let her three daughters find their own path, and was especially careful when she discovered her girls had taken strongly to the sport that she excelled at on the collegiate level.

A Division I scholarship and potential offer from Ohio University became a strong possibility during Savannah's sophomore and junior years, as she led Central Crossing (a school that has only been in existence for eight years) to its first district championship in any sport. Last season, Savannah posted a 0.66 ERA and fanned 295 batters from the circle (in 115 innings), all while hitting .506 at the plate with four home runs and 22 RBIs.

"I was trying not to put any pressure on her to attend one university over another," Rona said. "I wanted to give her the room to make the decision but at the same time still be supportive of OU because they have a great program. It was really hard to walk that line because regardless of how much I like the program, it's going to be Savannah's four years, not mine."

But Savannah's decision to continue the Dorsey legacy on campus in Athens, Ohio, might have been cultivated from the growing bond she has developed with her mother. The two have always been very close, both in and out of softball.

"We've always had a great relationship," Savannah said. "We have a lot more to talk about than just softball. Not only is she a great mom, we share the same interests. We like hiking and running and going to the beach together."

So when Savannah and her mother were sitting in Buffalo Wild Wings on a visit to Ohio University, Savannah couldn't help but think about the time when, as a fifth grader, she tried on her mom's OU letter jacket for the first time. Or all those hours in the family barn, where together they cared for their horses on one side and took batting practice on the other. Or all their hikes together, when Rona would often tell her not about the fun times but about all of the hard work that goes in to being a Division I softball player. After all, it was all of those conversations with her mother that convinced her to put her fork down, place her napkin on the table and commit to Ohio University.

"I'm so close with my family and OU is so close to home," Savannah said. "When I was trying to decide where to play, I wrote down a list of pros and cons and I would write on the pros list that my mom played there. They think she's a legend there, and I think that's so cool."

No disrespect to the ceramics project, but a daughter's choice to embrace her mom's youth and pursue her own talents on the same softball diamond her mom shined on years ago is a pretty special gift.

And the nice thing for Rona is that this gift will extend far beyond Mother's Day.