Florida pitcher still dominates with missing finger

Dalton Ross is the closer for the University of Tampa baseball team. He throws three nasty pitches, including a fastball hitting 90 miles per hour. But he’s shutting down the opposition with only four and a half fingers on his pitching hand. “I throw a fastball with my ring and middle finger, a two-seam grip,” Ross said. “My slider is just my middle finger. I throw a split change thing.” The 24-year-old Statesboro, Ga. native had to change his pitching style completely after a construction accident took his right index finger in 2016. “I was working building houses as a fall and winter job,” he said. “My last day on the job before my senior season started, and I got caught in a table saw. A knot in the board and snatched it out of my hand.” At 18 years old, Ross’ dreams of playing baseball were fading—until his high school coach Jim Simmons gave him some inspiration. “He told me a story of a guy named Mordecai Brown, who was missing his entire finger here back in the 19-teens,” Ross said. “He got caught in a tractor and broke all three of his fingers. This guy pitched in the major leagues for like 20 years.” Ross landed one scholarship offer from Bryan College in Tennessee before transferring to UT. He earned first-team All-Conference honors last season and has trimmed his ERA by nearly two points this season. “I’d say I’m better off,” he said. “I was the most average over-the-top pitcher. When this happened, I started experimenting with being a sidearm guy. Now that’s who I am. I’m a sidearm pitcher. I’d say I found who I am as a pitcher.” “Being a reliever, he tends to come in and close games, tight situations where we need him,” Tampa catcher Parker Schlichte said. “I feel like that mental fortitude that he’s gained from losing the finger, going through that entire ordeal, the mental toughness to come back, and be a better player than he was before makes him that much better in those positions.” With three games left in the regular season, the No. 3 Spartans are in a position to win their first national title since 2019.