The best tool in O'Toole's tool box - Tucson News Now

The best tool in O'Toole's tool box

Tucson, AZ - Filthy. That's what Arizona pitching coach Stacey Iveson calls it. Other descriptions include "killer" and "knee-buckler."

"When she's throwing it well," says Iveson, "it's tough to hit that. It just sets everything else up."

The "it" Iveson refers to is Danielle O'Toole's best pitch. Her off-speed change-up.

"I think at this league, at this level," said head coach Mike Candrea, "I think the off-speed pitch is really the x-factor."

Which makes Danielle, potentially, the x-factor. 

Danielle's change-up is about 15 mph slower than her fastball (mid 60's to high 40's) but that's not why it's so effective.  

"The thing about her," said Candrea, "is her arm speed stays really fast. She doesn't give it away. She sells it pretty well."

It wasn't always that easy. Danielle started throwing the change-up when she was about 14-years-old and to hear her tell the story, it was trial and error for longer than she'd care to remember.

"It would go high, up in the air, way above the batter. It would go in the dirt" said Danielle. "I threw 50 a day for three years. Even if I couldn't go outside and throw it, I'd wrap a sock inside another sock and make it like a ball and throw it down my hallway."

And if that wasn't enough, her father Mike gave her extra motivation.

"He was like, 'If you don't throw 50 a day you'll have your phone taken away.' And he'd check on my siblings and make sure I did it."

It worked. By the end of her senior year at St. Lucy's High School, Danielle said she finally felt comfortable with the pitch.

"That's what it takes," said Iveson. "A lot of repetition until it becomes second nature. That's a pitch she could throw in any count, in any situation."

Nine years ago the Wildcats had a pitcher named Taryn Mowatt whose bread and butter was her change-up. All she did was win the 2007 Women's College World Series. Mike Candrea admitted there are definitely similarities between Taryn and Danielle and if that's the case then, Wildcat Nation, enjoy the ride.

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