When a team experiences a head coaching change, it is always important for certain players to step up and accept a leadership position to help the transition go smoothly. Junior softball player, Katie Kaiser, stepped into that position this past season, with her attitude both on and off the diamond.
The Rock softball team finished the season a 15-23 record, and Kaiser led her team with .353 batting average and 49 hits. She also had four home runs and 21 RBIs. Because it was important for her team to develop young talent this past season, Kaiser doesn’t necessarily view the year as a disappointment based on wins and losses.
“We talk a lot about building our team and that it is a process,” Kaiser said. “Yeah we didn’t make playoffs this year, but we can build on what we’ve created and make that our goal for next year. We learned a lot of new things and I do believe that the team we had this year would have annihilated the team we had last year.”
Kaiser also recognized that it was very important for all of her teammates who were upperclassmen to come together and makes things easier for the new coach, Stacey Rice.
“We were very excited about Coach Rice taking over this year, especially with her having already been an assistant coach with us in the past,” Kaiser said. “We had some great juniors and seniors this year who were all on the same page, and we did our best to set an example for everyone else.”
During her three seasons with the Rock, Kaiser has a .328 cumulative batting average with a total of 128 hits. Among those hits are 19 doubles, 12 home runs, and three triples. Kaiser is also good for 59 career runs batted in. Besides being a leader on the field, Kaiser realizes she also needs to set an example for her younger teammates by being a strong student.
“It’s definitely stressful, but it’s always important be in constant contact with your professors,” Kaiser said.
“Our coaches have a really strong focus on academics. If we have a practice scheduled during one of our class times, we are expected to go to that class. But if we need to miss for a game, you need to communicate with a professor so that they understand you will still work hard and make up for that assignment.”
Kaiser created a lot of memories through out the season, but the fondest of those memories was when SRU swept Indiana University at home in late March. During the two game series, Kaiser went 4-10 with two runs, three RBIs, and a home run.
“Throughout the history of Slippery Rock softball, we don’t really ever sweep IUP,” Kaiser said. “It was awesome to get messages of support from friends and alumni who were excited to see us excelling and showing we improved. People don’t always recognize Slippery Rock softball, so coming out and beating a team that was ranked a lot higher than us in the PSAC poll meant a lot us.”
With one year remaining of eligibility, Kaiser is excited to get her senior year started and help build this program to succeed beyond her time at SRU.
“I want to set an example for underclassmen by how I respond to both good and bad situations,” Kaiser said. “I don’t care about records and big plays, I just want to set an example as a leader and that is what is truly important to me.”