Former University of Arizona standout pitcher Debby Day became the first female pitcher to notch a win at the NAFA World Series, with an 8-2 victory Thursday afternoon over Smalltown, Michigan. After the win, Day said: “I’m really honored to have earned that first win, and grateful to my teammates for playing so well! In the big picture though, all that mattered was the team winning and making a run at the championship!”
Day pitched her Arizona Wildcats to the 1991 NCAA title, continuing her pitcher career in men’s leagues in Southern California. Day pitched for Maccabi USA last year, joining Balboa Fastpitch this season in SCIFL play. Day also pitches in Native American events, sometimes several games in day.
Day has been Balboa’s most effective pitcher down the stretch and got the honors Thursday to start their opener at the NAFA World Series. Day surrendered a game-tying two run homer in the third inning, but shut down the Michigan offense the rest of the way, picking up a complete game victory, 8-2, and with it, earning a spot in the NAFA record book.
Just for good measure, Day followed her first NAFA win with another in Balboa’s second game, entering the game in relief in the third inning, and getting key outs in the exciting, extra inning win, helping herself out with a couple of key defensive plays. Day also pitched in relief in Balboa’s third game, and expected to start when they take the field tonight in their fourth game.
Day’s participation in men’s leagues and tournaments is sometimes met with opposition and some chipping from opposing dugouts, but it usually doesn’t last long when she proves her mettle and starts tallying strikeouts. Day is highly regarded by her teammates, who appreciate her competitive fire.
Update Saturday, August 18, 2012
In her fourth appearance in the tournament, Debby Day tossed a two-hit shutout against San Diego, picking up her third win in as many decisions. Day also relieved in Balboa’s nightcap loss, meaning that she appeared in all five games for the So Cal squad. As of Saturday night, Day had posted the second lowest ERA in the NAFA “A” tournament.
Editor’s note: “Can she compete?” some ask? I’d say she excelled. To those who argued that she should not be allowed to play in the tournament, pray tell why not?
A bit more about Debby:
At the University of Texas Arlington:
In 1988, she led the nation in strikeouts, was selected to the all conference team, and broke seven school records, including innings pitched, ERA and strikeouts.
In 1989, she was again selected to the all conference team, pitching her school to the conference title.
At the University of Arizona:
In 1991, she made All-American, all PAC-10, and all region, pitching the U of A to the National Championship.
In 1992, she again earned All American, All PAC-10 and all region honors.
In 1993, Day played in the Japanese league for the Daitoku Dressers.
As for being a female competing in an all male sport, Debby said “I enjoy it, because I love the competitive spirit they have. Games are usually pretty intense but mixed with some lightness. I’m probably one of the more intense players and I think I actually fit in better with the men. I’ve really mostly only played men’s ball for the last fifteen years, so at this point it’s really natural for me.”
When asked if she received any negative feedback about being a female pitching at the NAFA World Series, Debby said “I did not directly hear anything negative, but I was told that there were some unhappy people. I hope that those men who initially did not want me out there now realize that I’m just a ball player trying to compete at the highest level possible, just like them. I really just want to be one of the boys on the field and in the dugout. I played women’s ball about five years ago and my biggest issue was that there just weren’t any others my age. Men’s ball allows me to not be the oldest on the field!”
As for any chippy comments coming from opposing dugouts, they apparently don’t bother Day. “I actually enjoy hearing the other teams comments, especially when it’s about striking out off a girl…..because then I now they are more focused on not striking out than hitting and it gives me the upper hand. I’ve played men’s for so long here in So Cal that everyone knows me and it’s very comfortable…..it’s always fun to get out there against new competitors.”
Day received plenty of support and praise for her outstanding performance at the 2012 NAFA World Series, from many, including a number who competed against her during the regular season. Day expressed her appreciation for it, adding, “I would love to give a huge thank you to my fellow SCIFL competitors from Colton, Primetime and Black Curtain, as well as to (SCIFL commissioner) Robert Hernandez who all went out of their way to show me support over the last weekend. It was nerve wracking to be received so coldly by other teams, but all those guys (and of course my fantastic Balboa teammates) really supported me and made me feel like I belonged there.”