D'Argento Uses Complete Game Versatility To Regain Her Form On The Mound
Published: Monday, April 2, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
It’s been almost three years since Nicole D’Argento was called “The Shadow.” She was a senior in high school and a softball superstar in the state of Massachusetts heading into her final season at Ashland High School. Her numbers from the previous season don’t seem real. By posting a batting average of .608, hitting seven home runs, recording 37 RBIs, striking out 310 batters in only 169 innings, pitching eight no-hitters (including one in which she struck out all 21 batters she faced), throwing one perfect game, accumulating a 24-0 record, and having an ERA of just 0.26, D’Argento earned not only the Gatorade Player of the Year but also the front page of ESPN Rise Magazine. The headline read “The Shadow,” with a subhead stating “Softball Star Nicole D’Argento Is Untouchable” that covered the bottom half of her poised and intimidatingly confident frame.
“It was quite the experience,” D’Argento, now a junior, said as she reflected on the experience with a laugh. “It was cool. That’s basically the only way that I can describe it.”
Her team was coming off of a Division 2 state championship, and they would go on to repeat her senior year as D’Argento was even more dominant. It’s the kind of run that would be tough to replicate in a video game, even with the all of the settings set on easy.
“It was a really exciting time, and it’s definitely something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life,” said D’Argento. “I was very fortunate to be able to experience that. It was just a lot of fun to do with a group of my closest friends
Those glory days of a 62-0 high school career record are behind her, but D’Argento has her dynamic and rare ability to perform both on the mound and at the plate to thank for all of her early success.
“Well, it’s funny because I actually started out as a middle infielder growing up playing, and a couple of my friends started getting into pitching, and I wanted to do that too,” D’Argento said about how she got started both pitching and batting. “It just kind of clicked and I fell in love with it, so it’s actually awesome for me that I get the opportunity to do everything that I do.”
After dominating the high school game at Ashland, D’Argento decided to stay close to home and play for Boston College. Although there was a lot of hype surrounding her arrival on the Heights, she didn’t come in and take over right away.
“It was definitely a transition,” D’Argento said of her first year at BC. “As dominant as I was in high school, I still was very familiar with the level of play I was going to be facing because of travel ball. I wasn’t expecting myself to come in and blow people away, so I had to kind of learn how to be a different kind of pitcher. I wasn’t going to blow the ball by people throwing 60 mph. I had to learn how to be a smarter pitcher with my movement and locations, and that’s something that I’m still growing with, and it’s all starting to come together.”
It didn’t fully hit her how different the college game would be though until her first road trip down at the University of South Florida, when she gave up her first collegiate home run.
“I hung a fat pitch, which is a mistake you can’t make,” she said. “So I was just like, hats off to her for jumping on it.”
The home run was a wakeup call to D’Argento that things wouldn’t be as easy as they had been just a year before.
“I was kind of like, ‘All right. This is legit.’”
BC ended the season with a record of 15-31 and a first-round exit in the ACC tournament. D’Argento appeared on the mound in 35 games and started 23, finishing with a record of 5-14 and a 3.55 ERA. She also posted a batting average of .262 to go along with her six RBIs in 61 at-bats. It was by no means a poor season, especially for a first-year player, but it was a dramatic drop-off for D’Argento. It was especially tough for her to try to make adjustments both on the mound and at the plate when she fell into slumps.
“It’s hard in the sense that when you do all of these things, you kind of have to try to be perfect at everything,” she said. “It was kind of hard to focus, to be the best pitcher I can be, but also be the best batter I can be. So you have to find a balance, and that was difficult at first because I obviously wanted to be successful in all aspects of the game, but sometimes you just can’t.”
D’Argento came into her sophomore year ready to be an ace for the Eagles on the mound, but the season didn’t begin as planned. After pitching a solid seven innings against Stetson in her first start and giving up only one earned run, she gave up five runs in her next start against Michigan State and was replaced after two innings. In her next appearance, she allowed four runs in 1.1 innings of relief to Tennessee. Her struggles on the mound continued, while freshman Amanda Horowitz began to prove herself as a reliable pitching option. D’Argento would only make five starts that year, significantly fewer than the 23 she had her first season at BC.