By Alex Caprariello
A passerby approaching Farrington Stadium on the Arizona State campus will often hear a shriek echo through the stands of the softball diamond. Every few seconds, the distinguishable cry rings out, followed by a loud clap of a softball striking the catcher’s mitt.
The source of the noise is one of Arizona State’s premier pitchers, sophomore right-hander Dale Ryndak.
Ryndak is one of three starting pitchers leading the Sun Devils’ campaign to the 2016 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma. With an 8-1 record, Ryndak has the best winning percentage among her fellow pitchers, and the only one with such a unique war cry.
“I’ve done it ever since I was seven years old,” Ryndak said. “I kind of just let out the energy I have before I throw.”
While each breath of energy that Ryndak releases is used to strike out her opponents, each pitch also brings new vitality for her teammates. It’s part of the package that Ryndak provides to her team’s dugout.
Described as “the type that you would always want as both a teammate and a friend,” Ryndak is a pillar of support for her Sun Devils squad.
Arizona State pitching coach Letty Olivarez has noted the zest that Ryndak brings to her teammates.
“She’s always positive. She’s always cheering on the other two in the bullpen,” Olivarez said. “She’s definitely a person that you would love to have around you.”
But in college sports, and especially in the cannibalistic Pac-12 Conference, it can’t always be peace and love. Ryndak must balance a personality between two extremes. While her teammates and coaches will comment on her outgoing and bubbly persona, deep within lies an ultra-competitive drive that presents itself on the diamond.
“[Dale] is a competitor. She has a different demeanor when she goes out and pitches, and I think you can see it,” said Kelsey Kessler, another of ASU’s starting pitchers. “She has a presence and she commands attention.”
On the diamond, Ryndak has been commanding that attention for as long as she can remember. Dating back to her earliest softball days in Downers Grove, Ill., Ryndak’s competitive drive has pushed her to be the best.
Her older sister, Kendall, who pitches at Lindenwood University in Missouri, is one source of Ryndak’s softball talent. Ryndak attributes her initial desire to play softball and even her signature grunt to her sister.
The two siblings spent their early years pushing each other to improve.
Kendall, who is three years older, had some unconventional methods for developing her sister’s game.
“She would always throw the ball at my shins because I would never be able to hit her glove,” Ryndak said.
Her sister’s positive punishment worked. By the time Ryndak reached high school, she was leading her school team while also traveling across the country to play with Illinois’ premier girls fast pitch organization, the Beverly Bandits.
By her senior year, she earned Illinois Softball Gatorade Player of the Year honors with a 22-1 record and 0.23 ERA, and led her team to the Class 4A sectional semifinals.
Those efforts were good enough to attract the attention of the Pac-12 and leave behind the mediocre softball competition in the Midwest.
When she was given the opportunity to visit Arizona State, she took it.
“[Arizona State] just blew every other school away. I was able to play my sport outside, where it’s meant to be played, 24/7, every day of the year,” she said. “I couldn’t pass it up. This is right where I wanted to be.”
Since then, she’s never looked back.
In her first year, Ryndak immediately made an impact for the Sun Devils. The pitcher struck out 82 batters, good enough for 10th most in the conference, and earned Pac-12 All-Freshman honors.
Now in her second year, the family and human development major reflects on her season and the time she has left in college.
While the goals of this year’s team are clear – win 40 games, host a sectional and win a national championship – there’s only one thing that she wants personally when she steps out on to the diamond.
“When girls step out on that field, you know they are good just by the way they walk,” she said. “You want to go into games and have people know your name.”
Whether it’s from her signature grunt delivered with each pitch or the 70 miles per hour fastball that she whips past her opponents, it’s becoming clear that the name Dale Ryndak is known to strike fear into the hearts of her opponents.