Ally DeFosset is fine-tuning a speech she will be honored to make.
DeFosset, a 2005 graduate of O’Fallon High School and a record-setting pitcher for the University of Missouri-St. Louis softball team, will be inducted into the UMSL Sports Hall of Fame at 6 p.m. on Feb. 5 at St. Louis Hilton at The Ballpark.
DeFosset is part of a class that includes three other UMSL athletes, a volleyball coach and the 1968-69 men’s basketball team. As a senior at UMSL in 2009, DeFosset won 22 games, posted a 0.74 ERA, threw 11 shutouts and struck out 298 batters in 199 1/3 innings.
That season, DeFosset was the Great Lakes Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year, a first-team all-GLVC selection, a first-team all-region pick and a third-team All-American.
“I was shocked, to be honest,” DeFosset said of learning about her induction. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. It really hadn’t been on my mind. You have to be out (of college) for a certain amount of years. ... I didn’t think I would get in at all. Being this early, it’s nice. All that hard work paid off.”
I was shocked, to be honest. I wasn’t expecting it at all. It really hadn’t been on my mind. You have to be out (of college) for a certain amount of years. ... I didn’t think I would get in at all. Being this early, it’s nice. All that hard work paid off.
O’Fallon High graduate Ally DeFosset on entering UMSL’s Sports Hall of Fame
DeFosset said her induction speech has to last “about three to four minutes.”
“I’ve taken a lot of time with it and kind of stressed out about it a little bit because it’s my time to really thank everyone from my heart for the entire time I’ve been playing,” DeFosset said. “I may say thank you to my parents (Tim and Terri) every now and then, but this is a really big honor for me, so I really want to take this speech seriously. My biggest fear is I don’t want to leave anybody out, but I think I have everybody.”
Others being inducted are: Josh Morgan (baseball, 2004-06); Dennis Spitzer (baseball, 1970-73); Dale Westerholt (baseball, 1970-73); and Denise Silvester (volleyball coach, 1986-2003). The 1968-69 basketball team, coached by Chuck Smith, finished 19-7 and was noteworthy for setting several single-season offensive records at UMSL.
Two people to whom DeFosset always will be grateful are her former coaches at O’Fallon, Janet and Ralph Lugge. Janet, the head coach, saw DeFosset’s ability and named her the Panthers’ No. 1 starter as a sophomore in 2003.
“She helped me a lot,” DeFosset said. “She took a chance on a sophomore to lead the team. I thank her for that. Her and Ralph were just a good duo. I remember going and watching high-school games with my dad when I was younger and always dreaming about the day I would play on varsity in high school. I was able to work hard and earn that spot.”
She always had a good idea of what she wanted and she put the best defense out there every single day. If you worked hard and put your nose down, she was going to pay you with playing time. I feel like she was always a fair coach and I never had anything bad to say about her.
Ally DeFosset on former O’Fallon High coach Janet Lugge
DeFosset said Janet Lugge was unfailingly supportive.
“She always had a good idea of what she wanted and she put the best defense out there every single day,” DeFosset said. “If you worked hard and put your nose down, she was going to pay you with playing time. I feel like she was always a fair coach and I never had anything bad to say about her.”
DeFosset helped the Panthers finish 33-5 in 2005 as they reached the sectional. But the season ended on a disappointing note when O’Fallon lost to Mascoutah 2-1 in the semifinals.
“We should have went a lot farther. We got upset by Mascoutah in the first round of sectionals, which was a big heart-breaker for us. That one definitely hurt because we had beaten them 9-0 earlier in the season. To lose 2-1 was a heart-breaker for us.
“But that senior year was a lot of fun. Both senior years, in college and in high school, were two of my best years.”
On to college
DeFosset played two years at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Mo. As a sophomore, she was 18-6 with a 0.56 ERA and 247 strikeouts as the Vikings finished 44-13.
DeFosset then transferred to UMSL for her final two seasons. There, DeFosset finished with a 1.25 career ERA (second all-time at UMSL) and 514 strikeouts (second). She set the career strikeout record April 12, 2009, against Northern Kentucky, and it held until Hannah Perryman broke the mark in 2014.
“Coming from a junior college, I was a little nervous about transferring to a four-year university,” DeFosset said of her move to UMSL. “But (former) coach Chuck Sosnowski was really nice and made it really fun and an easy transition.
“My senior year was one of the best years I’ve had playing ball, besides breaking records and whatnot. As a team, it was the first time going to regionals in more than 20 years. I feel like we kind of put the program back on the map a little bit. It was really rewarding.”
DeFosset won 16 games and registered 216 strikeouts as a junior in 2008, then took a major step in 2009 when her riseball became virtually unhittable.
“My main pitch I loved was a riseball,” DeFosset said. “I liked to get ahead in the count and then come back with the riseball. That was probably my most effective pitch and the biggest pitch I got a lot of girls out on.”
The fastball, I would work inside and outside. I was able to place it really well. The riseball jumps at the last second. It looks like a fastball coming in, then at the last second, it rises and goes above (hitters’) hands. People would swing underneath it.
Ally DeFosset on her best pitch, the riseball
DeFosset complemented the riseball with a changeup and a fastball. She used the fastball to get ahead, then turned to the riseball to finish off hitters.
“The fastball, I would work inside and outside. I was able to place it really well,” DeFosset said. “The riseball jumps at the last second. It looks like a fastball coming in, then at the last second, it rises and goes above (hitters’) hands. People would swing underneath it.
“I had a great defense behind me, too, and I knew they would make a play. My catcher, JaCee Ellis, played a big part. We really connected. I don’t think I ever shook her off once. She knew what I wanted to throw and when the right time was to throw that pitch.”
Still loving the game
DeFosset remains involved in softball, working in her second season as the pitching coach at Webster University in Webster Groves, Mo., a St. Louis suburb.
DeFosset doesn’t rule out becoming a head coach at some point.
“I would love to. I like to give back and pass on my knowledge and everything I’ve learned through the years,” she said. “I’m also a service coordinator at Developmental Disability Services of Metro East (in Belleville). My degree is in psychology and I’m working with people with disabilities. It’s definitely rewarding. This job that I have now is the one I’ve always been working for. I really love it. It allows me to do the pitching-coach job, too.”