A rivalry, a friendship and a promise lead to formidable U duo

Pitcher Sara Moulton and catcher Kari Dorle have already combined for 18 wins and nine shutouts in 2011.

by Jesse Mandell-McClinton

Batteries donâÄôt tend to last long. Computer and cell phone batteries rarely make it through a school week. Most used around the house run for a couple of months, a little longer if youâÄôre lucky. Even car batteries can only go through a few years in Minnesota before the cold begins to eat away chunks of their voltage.

Yet thereâÄôs a battery at Minnesota thatâÄôs lasted nearly a decade, and, more surprisingly, has only gotten better with age.

Sara Moulton and Kari Dorle are the Minnesota softball teamâÄôs top pitcher and catcher, respectively. The pair has been playing with and against each other for almost 10 years now, and as Gophers, theyâÄôve combined for 18 wins and nine shutouts this season.

The journey to this seasonâÄôs success started years ago as a pact to play together for Minnesota, and so far itâÄôs resulted in 208 strikeouts for Moulton in her freshman season.

âÄúActually following through on our dream and playing here is just really fun, and something that weâÄôre proud of,âÄù Dorle, herself only a sophomore, said.

The chemistry between the two began as a competition; they were on opposing teams in the same 12-and-under softball league.

âÄúI struck her out a couple times, we had a little rivalry going,âÄù Moulton said. Dorle remembered reaching first base on a dropped third strike and ultimately scoring the winning run against Moulton. Selective memory always seems to permeate a rivalry.

MoultonâÄôs and DorleâÄôs fathers, who coached their daughtersâÄô respective teams, became friends. Eventually the families got to know each other, and it was only a matter of time before they were teammates.

The two finally came together on a club team in the Minnesota Metro Fastpitch League. In DorleâÄôs junior year of high school âÄî MoultonâÄôs sophomore âÄî they took second in a national tournament.

âÄúWe connected right away,âÄù Moulton said. The connection did not extend to their official high school leagues, however. Dorle went to North St. Paul and Moulton attended Eagan. Though they played relatively close to each other and though both received All-State honors, the two never faced each other in high school play.

But they kept in touch, texting each other and communicating via Facebook. The goal to play for the Gophers stayed alive, and this year they finally got the chance to play together again. Even the families are still close and continue to cheer on their daughters together each game.

Dorle has caught each of MoultonâÄôs starts this year, and they have two seasons after 2011 to continue to improve. They both said they value the friendship they shared before coming to Minnesota and are able to talk to each other easily during games.

 âÄúItâÄôs always good to know your catcher. You have to be comfortable with them, and IâÄôm very comfortable with Kari,âÄù Moulton said. âÄúSheâÄôs someone I can talk to whenever IâÄôm having a bad day or an off game.âÄù

When asked what was similar between playing together now and when they were younger, Dorle quickly said it was the strikeouts. ItâÄôs something that the pair has racked up at an impressive clip this season, and plan on doing for a good while longer.

âÄúWe just picked up where we left off,âÄù Dorle said.

The elementary rivalry turned adolescent cohesion turned collegiate success has allowed the pair to share a bond beyond that of most batteries. ItâÄôs one that should continue to grow, improve and help Minnesota for years to come.

âÄúWeâÄôre hoping to do great things here together,âÄù Moulton said. âÄúWeâÄôre both super excited that we can wear the M with pride, finally.âÄù