Softball: Drohans set stage for Dyer sisters

Rodger Sherman

Four years ago, Erin Dyer established her reputation as a clutch hitter in dramatic fashion. Then a freshman right fielder, she stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning and delivered, tying the first round College World Series game against Alabama with a two-strike, two-out solo home run.

Thirty-seven homers later, a lot has changed. Dyer is a senior who has started 154 of the last 158 games at catcher. Her sister, junior centerfielder Kelly Dyer, has joined her at Northwestern.

But Erin’s reputation as a timely slugger remains.

“I think that I become a different hitter when there are people on base,” she said. “As a senior, my team looks to me a lot to come through in those types of situations, because I have before. The team jokes that I have a home run swing.”

Her team is right. With two solo blasts Wednesday against Northern Illinois, of her 27 hits on the year, 13 have been home runs. With 42 career shots, she ranks third on NU’s all-time list.

“She’s got a lot of spunk,” coach Kate Drohan said. “Throughout her career, she’s been an incredible RBI player. She always comes up with that big hit when runners are on.”

Dyer’s spunk sometimes spreads to her teammates. She has caught all 220 innings junior pitcher Lauren Delaney has thrown this year, in addition to catching a few innings from Jessica Smith and her sister, Kelly.

“This being her third year as a starting catcher, she’s really worked at learning what things will help me or help Boots (Jessica Smith),” Delaney said. “She has more experience with Kelly, obviously.”

To say the sisters enjoy playing together is an understatement. In separate interviews, each sister described playing alongside their sister as “a dream come true.”

Playing at NU wasn’t always the plan. Kelly said she never thought the two would play together collegiately, and some even advised that she not play alongside Erin.

Talking to another pair of softball sisters – Drohan and her identical twin/assistant coach, Caryl, who played collegiately at Providence together – helped sway her toward Evanston.

“I like them together,” Kate Drohan said of the Dyers. “I really enjoyed playing with my sister. I think it’s really fun being able to play with a family member on the team, there to support you, there to challenge you.”

After years of playing softball together, Erin’s senior year marks the last time the two will both take the field as Wildcats.

“It’s sort of surreal to me that it’s almost over, and I’ll never play softball in my entire life again, at least this competitively,” Erin Dyer said. “I’m looking forward to having a nice postseason run this year.”

Although the Dyers followed in the Drohans’ footsteps by playing college softball together, for now, they do not plan on becoming a Drohan-like coaching tandem.

“I’m sure our dad would love it if we coached at a college together some day, ” Kelly Dyer said. “But it’s not really in the works.”

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