Clay’s Dodds brings fire to SSU pitching staff

Clay’s Dakota Dodds recently announced his intention to play college baseball for Shawnee State University.

Clay’s Dakota Dodds recently announced his intention to play college baseball for Shawnee State University.

Jacob Smith | Daily Times

ROSEMOUNT — Throughout his span as a student-athlete under the Clay High School banner, Dakota Dodds has proven to be a competitor of the highest quality.

A star goalkeeper on the soccer pitch and Clay’s No. 1 ace on the mound, Dodds has proven to be a gamer from start to finish.

He’ll now look to translate his multi-sport abilities to Shawnee State, where the standout pitcher will make the transition to SSU beginning with the 2020-21 academic year.

For Dodds, the chance to play at the hallowed grounds of Branch Rickey Park while being near his family are great blessings that he doesn’t take lightly.

“I’m excited to have another opportunity to play the sport that I love,” Dodds said. “This is especially the case with the chance to play in my hometown and near my family.”

An outstanding goalkeeper, Dodds saw significant time in between the posts for the Panthers and performed at a high level for Clay, making 501 saves over the course of his four-year career.

By making 268 of those saves during his sophomore year alone, Dodds earned the Southern Ohio Conference’s Division I Defensive Player of the Year Award — and earned two Division III First-Team all-Southeast District accolades in both his junior and senior campaigns.

Even with that kind of success as a goalkeeper; however, it was clear that Dodds was even better on the diamond.

After posting a 1.99 ERA and adding in a 2.4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (55 strikeouts to 22 walks) as a freshman, Dodds became Clay’s clear No. 1 starter from there on in, going 8-2 in 2018 with a 1.62 ERA while improving his strikeout-to-walk ratio to a 2.59-to-1 mark (88 strikeouts to 34 walks).

Dodds also added 35 RBI and 24 walks over his first two seasons of athletic competition at the plate, and helped lead Clay to a 33-17 record over those first two seasons.

As a junior, Dodds enjoyed further improvement, going a stout 9-2 on the mound while dropping his ERA to a flat 1.00 due to better control, as evidenced by his 87 strikeouts to just 18 walks — a strong 4.83-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Dodds, who played at first base when he wasn’t pitching, also raised his own batting average by 54 points from 2018 — batting .341 with 19 RBI and 15 walks on the season.

His vast improvement in both areas allowed Clay to share the SOC I championship with Green to end the decade, which marked the school’s first conference title in 16 years — and allowed the Panthers to claim a 20-9 overall record.

Despite the cancellation of what would’ve been his final high school campaign in 2020, Dodds finished his career with back-to-back first-team all-SOC and first-team Division IV all-Southeast District accolades — while claiming SOC Pitcher of the Year honors as a junior.

His abilities, which resulted in a 20-9 record on the bump, allowed Clay to claim a 53-19 record in three seasons.

The Panthers amounted a 73.6-percent winning mark as a result during Dodds’ time sporting the Blue and Yellow.

Through all of the successes, however, Dodds’ greatest memories are simply competing for his high school coaches — Doug Ledingham and Marc Cottle — and alongside his fellow teammates in both sports.

“It was an honor, especially for the fact that I was able to play under two amazing coaches (in Doug Ledingham and Marc Cottle),” Dodds said. “I loved the sense of urgency that I had to play with every game.”

Along with his accomplishments from a high school standpoint, Dodds also competed at a high level on the mound for both Portsmouth Post 23 and the Rock Hill Senior League — the latter of whom he won an Ohio Senior League state championship with back in 2018.

Dodds hit .636 over the summer for Rock Hill during its run under head coach Carl Blankenship.

“It’s a great feeling,” Dodds said of playing at BRP. “To play there, especially knowing the talent that has stepped on that field, is tremendous. Just knowing that makes me thankful.”

With his standout career in both high school and summer ball officially behind him, Dodds has one broad mission that he aims to succeed at — and that’s representing his home county and the communities in it in the best manner possible.

“I hope to get my degree and develop lifelong relationships along the way,” Dodds said. “I want to make an impact any way possible on the team.”

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Clay’s Dakota Dodds recently announced his intention to play college baseball for Shawnee State University.’s Dakota Dodds recently announced his intention to play college baseball for Shawnee State University. Jacob Smith | Daily Times