Carlos Rodas vividly remembers the day pitchers and catchers reported to the Pilgrim gym for the first softball practice of the 2020 season. The chill in the air was a reminder that spring had a lot of work to do. Still, after his first-ever practice as the Pilgrim High School head softball coach, he couldn’t wait for the season to begin. After practice, his daughter, Dyonna, then a senior and starting catcher, turned to him and without hesitation said, “Dad, we’re going to win the state championship this year.”
They had found the missing piece: a shy, but fierce freshman, Alyssa Twomey.
“I knew we were going to have a good team, but pitching was going to be a huge question mark,” said Rodas.
At the very first practice, the question was answered. On day one of her high school career, Twomey was clocked at 61.
“I knew of Alyssa, but hadn’t seen her pitch,” said Rodas. “Once we saw her with our own eyes, it validated what we were hoping was true. We were excited.”
But we all know what happened next. Three days later, Covid-19 ended the season before it even had a chance to start.
“I was eager to come and play with the seniors that year and prove myself and I didn’t get that chance,” said Twomey. “So I wanted to come in my sophomore year and work even harder to make a name for myself.”
She certainly did. She is now a senior captain and a key reason the first place Patriots are the only unbeaten team in Division I. The 5’10” dominant right hander is the state’s best pitcher – and her ability to crush the ball – arguably makes her the best overall player in Rhode Island. She has a trophy shelf filled with awards and honors to prove it.
Twomey is a two time All-state pitcher and as a junior last year, she was named the RI Gatorade Player of the Year – an honor she will likely repeat this year. Twomey made history last year when she became the first Pilgrim girl to ever receive Gatorade Player of the Year. A member of the National Honor society her entire high school career, she is equally as successful in the classroom..
When the college offers came pouring in, it wasn’t a difficult decision for Twomey. With her family members in the stands cheering her on at almost every game, she wanted to stay close to home. The decision to commit to Providence College – just 10 miles down the road from Pilgrim was an easy one. She will not only be the team’s sole incoming freshman from Rhode Island in the fall, she is the only player from the Ocean State on the entire Friars roster.
Wednesday night saw @_alyssatwomey15 flirt with perfection and @PilgrimHSSoftb1 continue its roll through Division I with a shutout of Cranston West. https://t.co/t9hPWYhKaQ
— Bill Koch (@BillKoch25) April 27, 2023
Twomey’s success is the result of the hard work she puts in year round, both training with pitching coach George Oliver and with the Bombers Elite.
“Alyssa works hard and continues to get better. This kid came back throwing 67 this year and has developed off-speed pitches that make her almost unhittable,” said Rodas. “It’s a credit to her to have reached being the best player in Rhode Island a year ago and then to come back even better this year. I don’t know of too many athletes that once they become the best player in the state still have this burning fire to continue to get better.”
There is only one honor that has eluded Twomey throughout her high school career: a state championship. The Patriots lost to Covid her freshman year and, have reached the finals the last two years, only to fall to Coventry in back-to-back state championships. The Patriots have already avenged the loss, defeating the Oakers in a rematch , 5-0, in late April. Still, there’s a long way to go before the 2023 state champion is crowned.
“This year, we just all want to put the work in,” said Twomey, an only child who refers to her teammates as her sisters. “Coming in second and knowing that we lost to the same team twice just gives us much more motivation and pushes us that much harder to want to win this year. There’s a lot of good teams out there. We just have to keep our mindset straight and be confident throughout the whole season. We’ve just got to keep working hard and be focused on the end goal.”
The Patriots hard work is evident in their record, which is perfect through the first half of the season. Her own highlight reel includes a recent shutout (5-0) win over previously unbeaten Cranston West. She overpowered the Falcons and pitched a perfect game into the seventh inning before giving up one hit in the final inning while earning the shutout – her sixth of the season. Her performance was nothing short of spectacular.
“I did not feel a ton of pressure once the game started,” said Twomey who has 0.44 ERA and has struck out 119 batters thus far. “I was really excited to face good competition and I think it was just such an exciting game. There was so much energy from both sides and it was a ton of fun to be in the middle of it all. Having confidence in myself and my team behind me helps ease the nerves when playing in bigger games like this one. Everyone did their part and it showed.”
This is Twomey’s final chance to be part of a state championship team and she is doing everything she can to help her team get there. Rodas, too, has just one more shot to win a state title. Like Twomey, this is his final season representing Pilgrim. He will soon take his game to the next level and join the staff at Salve Regina. Rodas and Twomey will soon part ways and begin their college careers, but Rodas will keep a close eye on Twomey when she suits up for the Friars.
“She has everybody’s attention and the coolest part of it for her is that she is going somewhere where the rest of the state can continue to root for her for the next four years,” said Rodas. “And I really hope that’s how things turn out for her…that she turns Providence College into one of the better collegiate teams and she becomes a local legend.”