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Payton Gottshall Is Owning The Circle For Bowling Green

(Photo by Mallory Hiser, BGSU Athletics)

Payton Gottshall did not have your typical opening weekend on the softball diamond. In fact, she’s not had a typical season at all.

In the redshirt freshman’s opening weekend against Cleveland State, she struck out 51 batters in three appearances, threw a perfect game and allowed no earned runs in 21.1 innings. The following weekend, the Bowling Green State hurler struck out 43 batters in 22 innings pitched and only allowed two runs to cross home plate.

In the next two games, she struck out 28 hitters, including hurling a one-hit shutout. Since then, the Ohio native has struck out 45 more for a total of 165 strikeouts and the calendar is not yet through March.

All told, the cause of her success she says has a lot to do with her catcher, Evelyn Loyola.

“My catcher, Evelyn, we start together a lot of the time and she knows me really well,” said Gottshall. “She keeps me sane out there sometimes. She’s a huge part of my success in everything because she’s back there framing it. She really does a lot of the work for me, she’s really why I get all of those strikeouts.”

This isn’t anything new for Gottshall. In the shortened COVID-19 season of 2020, she struck out 128 batters in only 16 appearances, averaging 10.3 strikeouts per seven innings to lead the Mid-American Conference. In addition to her catcher, she also credits her head coach, Sarah Willis, who calls her pitches.

“She and I have a really good bond and she knows me really well as a pitcher and everything,” said Gottshall. “She knows what I like to throw and it’s funny because I know one batter that opening weekend kept fouling off a lot of balls and I was thinking in my head I wanted to throw a certain pitch and then she called it. She takes the pitch right out of my mind.”

Gottshall almost didn’t come to Bowling Green. Coming out of high school, she was already committed to the University of Tennessee at Martin, a DI school in the Ohio Valley Conference in the northern part of the state. Then, a phone call on the last day of her senior year changed everything.

“(The UT Martin coach) called me during school and I found out that he was retiring and that he wasn’t going to be coaching anymore,” Gottshall said. “After I found that out, I wasn’t comfortable because it’s nine hours away from my home and my parents didn’t feel comfortable with me going that far not knowing who was going to be a coach there.

“Because I was signed at the time, I got released, decommitted and then I got into contact with Coach Willis here at BG. The first day I could officially come on campus, I came here on a visit and committed right away.”

Gottshall said the minute she met Coach Willis in person, she knew it was meant to be.

“She’s such a great person, such a great coach and I just absolutely loved her when I first met her,” Gottshall said. “I knew this was where I wanted to be and where I wanted to spend my four years.”

To say it’s worked out well for Bowling Green would be an understatement. With almost 300 strikeouts in only 31 appearances so far in her collegiate career, along with 21 wins, it’s safe to say Gottshall is comfortable with the Falcons.

“Pretty much my whole life, this is all I’ve worked towards, this is all I’ve ever wanted to do—to play at this level and really get after it,” added Gottshall. “I’m basically living my childhood dream.”


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