- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Doom has super control and the biggest repertoire of pitches in college softball. Her opponents are truly doomed: She is 16-4 this season, with 15 shutouts, 197 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.28.
Off the field, she is so serious about softball that she spends hours working out in front of a mirror and stays awake at night visualizing hitters and mapping out her game plan. Is it any wonder that she's a psychology major (GPA: 2.9)? "I've got to concentrate to do well," she says. She keeps to herself and holds a lot inside. She is still adjusting to Westwood and having to live "a whole state away" from home. She grew up in a close family and took on the responsibility of caring for her Uncle Wayne, who has cerebral palsy. Last year, she even had second thoughts about coming to UCLA because she didn't want to leave him. "My uncle's my biggest fan," she says. "He went to all my games before I got here. He kept my stats in his head."
On the field, Doom is such a perfectionist that she takes forever to throw each pitch: She puts the ball in her glove. She licks her fingers. She sighs. She brushes back her hair. She crouches. She studies her right foot. She adjusts her weight....
"My outfielders say they can't even blink or they'll miss my pitch." Compton says. "When Doomer is pitching, you can write a term paper between pitches."
If you're grading, mark that A +. The Bruins ended the regular season last week with a 35-5 record and the No. 1 ranking in the country. They not only have the best pitching staff and, in Richardson, the best shortstop around, but they also have smarts. They have the highest grade average of any team at UCLA (3.3), and they're the only team at the school that doesn't have any member on academic probation.
In NCAA regular-season competition, teams play two seven-inning games against each opponent. UCLA has not lost a doubleheader this season. "Because Tracy and Debbie have different styles," says Backus, a former shortstop with the Amateur Softball Association's perennially formidable Raybestos Brakettes, "it's difficult for batters to adjust. Tracy throws heat. By the time batters have her figured out, the game's over. Debbie's so tall and her windup is so slow that it mesmerizes hitters. She takes a long stride, and when she releases the ball it seems like it's right out in front of you. Then, boom, it's there. And the doubleheader is over."
At eight, Compton started pitching for a Pee Wee team called the Peacocks in the Santa Maria, Calif. rec league. When she was 11, her father, Charles, who was her first and only coach until Backus, thought Tracy should graduate from an underhand, slingshot delivery to the adult windmill style. "And I demolished the backyard fence," she says.
As a little kid, Doom was a bowler in Minneapolis, where she lived until moving with her family to Tempe when she was 11. There her father, Dave, signed her up for a softball team called the Firefighters. Father and daughter worked on pitching every night behind their house. When Debbie was 14, her father sought out Hank Duffy, a local softball coach, and, under the lights of the tennis courts in a nearby park, Doomsday dawned. Duffy showed Debbie how to use her height to her advantage—to extend her stride to the edge of the pitching circle, and to disguise her pitches by releasing the ball at calf level rather than at her hip. She discovered she had a natural downspin on the ball, which gave her a drop pitch that fell six inches. She added a rise and a changeup and became too good for her high school team. So, at 17, she joined the Sun City Saints, an ASA team made up of women 10 or 15 years her senior. "Even the cheerleaders were 65," Doom says.
So, with all this success and natural talent and beauty, who needs to take Cruising for Guys 101? "Well," says Compton, looking as if she were about ready to turn another cartwheel, "you can never be too sure."