The 2017 Highlands graduate played a big role in leading the Bluebirds to the first three of four straight 9th Region baseball tournament championships and a state runner-up finish in 2015. It did not take Doty long to do the same thing pitching for the Otterbein University Cardinals, an NCAA Division III institution located in the Columbus, Ohio suburb of Westerville.
Doty finished 5-1 in his freshman season for the Cardinals appearing in 11 games and starting in eight. The five wins ranked second on the team. In 51 innings pitched, Doty struck out 43 and allowed 63 hits, 14 walks and 35 runs including 30 earned. Starting pitchers can not earn victories if they do not pitch at least five innings similar to Major League Baseball.
"Ethan was able to make an immediate impact, not only because of his physical ability, but because he has a keen understanding of how to pitch that is well beyond his years," said John LaCorte, Otterbein pitching coach. "Ethan threw every pitch this season with conviction and believed that he was always better than the person who stepped in the batters box. Ethan's ability and mentality are going to make him one of the best pitchers in the Ohio Athletic Conference for the next three years."
"The jump from high school to college is so much different because you're taking the best of the best even at the (Division) III level," Doty said. "You just have to be in that mindset that you're not going to beat everybody, but you have to be on and be able to do what you got to do in order to get these guys out because they're better than what you saw in high school. When I first went through my first game or so, I just had so many unexpected hits that were just solid off the bat. Then once I finally settled down, I was starting to use every pitch knowing that I had an infield behind me that would field every ball and get dirty and dive for every ball. It just gives you the confidence in order to beat those hitters."
Doty could not say enough about LaCourte. LaCourte, a 2011 Otterbein graduate, earned All-Ohio Athletic Conference honors as a junior and senior. He ranked among the top 30 nationally for strikeouts per nine innings as a senior and finished his career in Otterbein's top 10 in school history for must wins and shutouts. The Otterbein pitching staff finished third in Division III with a 2.83 Earned Run Average in 2017.
"Coach LaCourte has been one of the best pitching coaches I've ever played under," Doty said. "He's young, but he knows his stuff teaching people to go in on their hands and do things that they're not comfortable with. It really builds them up and allows them to be ready for those big situations."
Doty spotted his fastballs in high school and had a knuckle curve that dropped straight down making it difficult for hitters to pick up. He has both a two-seam and four-seam fastball to go with that knuckle curve, slider and circle change-up.
Otterbein had another successful season under the guidance of Head Coach George Powell. The Cardinals finished 30-16 overall and 14-4 in the OAC good for the regular season championship. The Cardinals finished OAC Tournament runner-up to Baldwin-Wallace but still drew an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Tournament Tournament in Adrian (Michigan) where they lost both games in a double-elimination format similar to NCAA Division I. Otterbein batted .311 (502-1,616) as a team.
Doty noted the Cardinals are visible in the community. The team does charity work and fund raising in addition to the responsibilities in classroom and on the field. Doty initially majored in Bio Pre-Med, but is now in Allied Health with an intention of becoming a Pediatrician or Physician's Assistant.
"Our coach's philosophy for academics is if you don't do what you're supposed to do, they'll make sure that you do what you're supposed to do," Doty said. "So they give us more leeway room because they know that we're 19, 20, 21 years old and should have responsibilities and know our responsibilities inside the classroom and outside the classroom."
In the classroom, Doty said he did well. He took a lot of prerequisite classes required to earn a Bachelor's Degree his freshman year.
"Once you get beyond your freshman year and you get to move into stuff that have to do with your major and what you actually want to do, I feel like school goes by way easier," Doty said. "When you're in the classroom learning about Microbiology and you're trying to go in the medical field (and) already have learned that stuff in high school, I wouldn't say it's hard. You know you're going to class, but you know it's not necessarily a class you want to take. But you have to in order to get to the classes you do want to take in the following years."
Doty said his focus in the off-season is to become stronger. Teams have designated hitters in college so Doty just has to worry about pitching. Otterbein lost 12 seniors from the team.
"We have a workout program for every day of the week as a pitcher," Doty said. "Say you pitch one day, the next day you'll take the day off. Coach LaCourte has printed plans and things to do specific exercises, rehab work, throwing exercises, drills and other stuff. It's one of the greatest things I've ever seen. It so well thought out and so well developed that we rarely see an injury for the pitching staff. We have athletic training staff at each practice. You're able to go in before and after practice and games to see trainers. Trainers always see us first."
Otterbein's enrollment is about 3,000 students. But Doty said the small school experience makes things feel like home in Fort Thomas.