Dana Weidinger is a freshman softball player from Bath, Ohio. She is studying marketing management and was recently named GLIAC Pitcher of the Week. (Photo: Hillsdale Athletics / Courtesy)

How did you develop an interest for softball?

I started playing softball when I was 5 years old, playing tee-ball on a grass field with friends from elementary school. I started pitching when I was 8. From there I fell in love with being able to control the time and speed of the game and having a defense behind me. I loved being there for my team, and they would back me up on everything I do.

Do you have a favorite memory from your softball career?

My junior year of high school, we were playing a rival school. I was pitching this entire game that went on for 11 innings. In the fifth inning, I hit a home run to tie the game 1-1. Then in the 11th inning, we had a person on third base, and my best friend hit a line drive to center field to win the game. It was the craziest game I’ve ever had to go through. It was really hard to focus the whole time because I’d never pitched an 11-inning game. That game just made me want to go further in the sport. That’s why I went into college softball. I can’t imagine life without that feeling — the feeling of a team win.

How has softball shaped your life?

I feel that it has given me an out to all of the stress that school can put on you. It’s very relaxing every time I step on the field. It just feels like home, and I know I have my team backing me up. Softball has also shaped my relationship with my family, too, and brought us together; every weekend we’d travel together for games. I’ve also made so many friends over the years with all the different teams I’ve been on. I feel this team at Hillsdale has the strongest friendship. All the upperclassmen opened their arms to us freshmen like we were family. 

What drew you to Hillsdale?

I was originally born in Michigan, and we moved to Ohio for my dad’s job, but I always loved it here. Coach Joe came and saw me pitch, and I thought he was very personable — I was very nervous, but he cracked jokes to relieve the tension. Then I visited campus and fell in love with the scenery and the people here. Everyone was so nice, smiling at you when you walked past them, and I liked how small the campus is, because I don’t want to be just a number. I like that you can build relationships with your professors, and I loved the team the first time I met them. I practiced with them before I came here, and everyone was so nice and personable, cheering me on when I was on the mound, and it just felt like I was supposed to be here. I am so happy with my decision; I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It’s the perfect fit for me.

Is it hard to balance athletics with academics?

The first couple weeks were very tricky. We had our 5 a.m. lifts, and I was not used to getting up that early, but the team was there motivating us. I realized I have to have a set schedule for study times and practice and also a social life, because that’s important, too. It was really hard when I first got here, but a month into the season, I feel like I have a schedule down. 

What was your reaction to being named GLIAC Pitcher of the Week?

I was completely surprised. I opened up Instagram, and it was right there, and I was like, “That’s not me.”  I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was all a team win because without my team, I couldn’t have won this award. They had my back 100 percent. It was a really big honor.

What helps you succeed in softball?

When I’m on the mound, it’s almost like a circle and everything else goes blank. It’s a weird vision, almost. I can’t hear anything; it’s kind of a complete zone. My coaches said they’ve never seen so much focus. If someone starts talking to me, I can’t hear them. All I can see is a small square where the glove’s sitting, and I just throw the ball to it.

How do you hope to grow athletically and otherwise at Hillsdale?

I would like to have more wins than losses. I’m focusing on getting a lower ERA, too. And I want to be there for my team. It’s a new team, and we have mostly freshman pitchers. I think we’re getting better at communicating with each other. I feel our communication already growing. I’d like to have a high number of strikeouts and not a lot of walks. Outside of softball, I’d like to grow my confidence level in my studies. I first got here and thought, “Oh my gosh, it’s Hillsdale.” It’s a lot of academic focus, and it’s different from anything I’ve been through. I want to get better study habits.