Softball pitcher trying to make home away from home

Mariah Dawson makes her home in Camas, Wash. every summer. The junior right-hander has a 5-12 record, 4.16 ERA and 80 strikeouts through April 11.

Jolson Diaz/Contributing Writer

Three-thousand miles away from FIU, junior softball pitcher Mariah Dawson spends her summers back home in Camas, Wash., a far cry from South Florida’s culture. Learning to adjust and transition to Miami’s vibrant atmosphere has been her biggest struggle, but also her biggest teacher.

Mariah Dawson makes her home in Camas, Wash. every summer. The junior right-hander has a 5-12 record, 4.16 ERA and 80 strikeouts through April 11.

“It’s a struggle being away from home but I have learned a lot,” Dawson said. “Not having any family here, not having anyone to go to when you’re down or stressed out, you have your teammates but nothing beats having your family right there for you.”

Starting at the 7 years old, Dawson played in little league before she officially started softball at age 10, where she played shortstop. Her dad, being a huge sports fan and follower of softball, taught her everything she knows about the sport.

“My dad is by far my biggest influence,” Dawson said. “It’s because he’s not easy on me. When he would throw a ball and I’d miss the catch, he would make me go and run after it. He was my biggest fan and my biggest critic, and he told me the honest truth no matter what.”

Dawson has two younger twin sisters who also pitch for softball, which is the reason she got into pitching. Dawson only knew the shortstop position up until middle school, but after seeing her little sister get all the attention from pitching, she wanted the spotlight for herself and knew that was not going to happen playing shortstop.

“I honestly love pitching. You have all the pressure on you but you also have the ability to control the outcome of the game in a way,” said Dawson. “If you have a really good game, you have the chance to dominate the other team and shut down their batters, bringing your team to victory.”

Dawson’s junior year of high school was a turning point in her life. That’s when her high school coach told her she could play for Division I softball. Although she didn’t believe it at first, after playing in a big tournament in Colorado, a lot of the coaches noticed her and assured her that she was ready to start pitching at a college level.

Through April 11, she had an ERA of 4.16 with a 5-12 record. In 22 appearances this season, she struck out 80 batters, the second highest on the team right behind freshman pitcher Corinne Jenkins’ 90 strikeouts.

After every season, Dawson settles back home in Washington where she gets to spend time with her family and take her mind off school. Although it’s getting easier, those first couple of weeks back in fall is always the toughest.

“I love it at FIU, I like the team and I’ve learned a lot,” Dawson said. “It’s a huge transition and it’s very tough, the beginning is always the toughest, but I can definitely say it’s getting easier.