Pro softball

Whiting's Dumezich proud to be a Bandit

2013-06-25T20:45:00Z 2013-09-16T18:49:11Z Whiting's Dumezich proud to be a BanditSteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) 933-4198 nwitimes.com

Whiting's Mel Dumezich would've been picked much higher in the National Pro Fastpitch Draft this spring.

The All-American pitcher from Texas A&M was on everybody's radar.

However, she let people know she was only interested in playing for the Chicago Bandits, so she "dropped" to the No. 15 overall pick in the land.

"The Bandits are who I wanted to play for," Dumezich said. "I know some of their players from travel ball, and it's close to home."

Dumezich went 88-26 at A&M with a 1.83 ERA and 775 strikeouts, playing at the NCAA's highest level. She batted .273 with 39 home runs and 121 RBIs.

Area fans already know what the cannon-armed kid from the small town can do. She led Whiting to three Class A state finals, winning two. Her career numbers as an Oiler are sick.

She set state records for strikeouts (1,651), wins (107), shutouts (73), no-hitters (32), ERA (.220), games started (116) and runs scored (194).

She is also fourth in career doubles (44), second in home runs (40), fourth in RBIs (149), third in hits (184) and second in complete games (107).

However, this is new territory. Dumezich started a game against Cat Osterman in the NPF, and she struck out Natasha Watley with the bases loaded. Playing against these Team USA stars every night is much different than anything in the past.

"Everybody is so good here. There are no holes in anyone's lineup," Dumezich said. "It is mentally and physically exhausting."

Dumezich is primarily a pitcher for the Bandits. She is 1-of-6 hitting with two RBIs. She is 1-1 in 13 innings pitched. She has 13 strikeouts and a 0.53 ERA.

Bandits coach Mike Steuerwald said Dumezich is doing just fine for being a rookie.

"Mel competes in the circle," Steuerwald said. "She's a hard girl to read. She doesn't show a lot of emotion, but she loves to compete. She takes the responsibility on her shoulders and is happy to.

"A lot of rookies in our league show a little sign of being timid. Mel hasn't shown anything like that yet."

There is a lot to learn for pitchers in the NPF. Unlike high school or college, there is no No. 1 among professionals. There are five No. 1s. Each player has to be ready when their number is called.

And for those keeping score at home, Dumezich has kept the number she's worn her entire career, No. 1.

"It's really been cool. It's really been fun," Dumezich said of her first month as a professional.

Many Northwest Indiana fans have gone to see her play in Chicago.

After the season Dumezich plans to return to A&M to finish her schooling and to coach. She hopes to have a long career in the NPF. Playing professionally in Japan, where the pay scale is much higher, is also an option.

"This is pretty cool," Dumezich said. "Sometimes it's hard to believe that I'm a professional athlete."

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