MILLEDGEVILLE — It’s been a breakout season for Georgia Military Prep School pitcher Dixie Raley.
Her recent performance earned her Athlete of the Week for the second time this year based on her strong pitching against First Presbyterian Day School last week and against Perry on Monday.
The junior struck out 14 batters in the Lady Bulldogs’ 5-1 win over FPD and snagged 19 strikeouts in the 4-0 victory over Perry.
“In the past few games, I’ve really known that my defense is behind me and they’ve really helped me, and so knowing they’re behind me I can focus on throwing strikes,” Raley said. “I know if they hit the ball that my defense is behind me because my job isn’t to strike everybody out, it’s to let them put it in play and let my defense work.”
With a strong defense behind her, Raley said she feels comfortable on the mound, but also credits GMC Prep’s offense for putting points on the scoreboard each game.
“Also, on offense my team scores a lot of runs and that insurance really helps me get into my comfort zone, and it lets you relax,” she said. “That’s what’s really helped me.”
For Raley, much of her success comes in part from her supportive teammates week-in and week-out, as she admits it has not been an individual effort this season.
“It gives me a lot of confidence, because they’re so positive,” she said. “All they do is they encourage me, and knowing that they’re behind me like that, it builds a lot of trust so that I can trust them to be able to make the plays.”
While it seems as if pitchers are on an island by themselves most of the time, the tall junior suggests otherwise.
“It seems that way sometimes, but if you watch I turn around and I talk to my middle-infielders a lot. We kind of joke around, and I have to be happy, so that’s how we kind of work,” Raley said. “Pitching is a real mental thing, but I have to tell myself continuously to focus, do what you’ve got to do, just throw the strike. You’ve got to stay on that one pitch, you can’t look at the pitch ahead, but you can’t really look back either.”
Striking out 33 of the last 42 batters she has faced, Raley confirms it has taken a lot of hard work and repetition to get to this point in her young career.
“It does seem like a lot. I try not to think about it because I don’t want it to get in my head,” she said. “It’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of muscle-memory, trying to memorize what to do.”
Heading into the post-season, Raley is pleased with her performances and thankful for the recognition for her accomplishments, but understands even more focus is required if the Lady Bulldogs have the chance to make a strong run in the Georgia High School Association State Tournament later this month.
“I’m really proud of myself, but you know, it’s a total team effort, and I think the way we’re headed if we can keep it up into the state tournament we’ll be good,” she said. “It’s such a great honor, and I appreciate it all. I’m so thankful.”