LVN: What are some key differences between the college and high school levels?
Kate Coffey: I think the biggest difference between the college and high school level is the love for the game. The girls that love the game made the effort to go to the next level. I think another key difference is the size. It’s amazing how big and strong athletes become during their four years in college. The speed of the game is also a big difference, and the athletes are all bigger faster stronger. The coaching is also different. It’s a business, and the coach is like a boss; the sport becomes a job.
LVN: Who helped you during high school to get you to the next level?
KC: The biggest help I had in high school came from my parents. They never missed a game, and they were always my biggest fans. My mom caught for me every year since I started playing softball, and she’s the bravest lady I know. My grandpa was a huge influence on me to further my education, and to use softball to pay for that. My pitching coaches, Dale Jensen, Lori Young and Tami Shamenski, were always there to help me through any struggle and would come help at any time of the day. John Short also was a huge helping me hit, and he also was that coach you could go to and vent about anything and he was always there to come early and stay late. I am forever grateful for all the support I received from family and friends in high school to always encourage me to do my best and get better. Kelly Frost was also quite an influence on my choice to go to the next level. Growing up, my mom used to tell me how she played at UNR and she shared some of her experiences with me, and I knew that I wanted to be a college athlete as well. Also Brian Itskin was the coach for my travel ball team in high school and is the one that got me into the recruiting process and did my video for me. Bethany and Kori Ellis caught me in the summers and made the idea of college less terrifying. Also my “big sister” Mallorie Getto was a good influencing and encouraging me to continue my education and softball.
LVN: What did you want to accomplish off the diamond in college?
KC: My biggest goal was to be a good student in college and to graduate in 4 years, which I am doing. I will graduate with a 3.4 with a degree in psychology. I made it a point of doing at least two service projects a year to give back to a community that gives so much to our school. Also another big goal was to make memories and not waste any of this amazing experience I’ve has in the last four years, and to make a lot of friends.
LVN: What memories stand out the most at Chadron and Dixie State?
KC: In my freshman year we knocked out the No. 2 team in the conference from the conference tournament. I threw a complete two-hit shutout and my mom and grandpa were there to watch. This year against Cal Baptist, I came in with runners on first and third no outs and gave up no runs we were down 6-4 at the time and my team came back and won the game 7-6. I finished that game and got the win. I think that is the most on-point my change-up has ever been. Then against Azusa Pacific, I threw a three-hit shutout, and my husband was there to watch.
LVN: What does the future entail after you get your degree from Dixie State?
KC: After softball, my husband and I are moving to Hawaii. My goal there will be to get on as a volunteer assistant coach at some school in Hawaii. I also want to get my masters in marriage and family therapy. I do not want to play anymore competitive fast pitch after this year is over. It’s time to hang up the cleats and give back just like my coaches did for me. I have learned so much in my 13 years of pitching and I can’t wait to coach.
LVN: Being a newlywed and with your husband deployed overseas, what has been the toughest part during your final semester?
KC: The holidays were the toughest part of the deployment because there was no softball or school, but we both made it through and most importantly his whole company made it home safely in April. My team was the biggest reason that I was able to focus and not be a mess. They kept me strong and were always there if i needed to talk. Getting married in August was the best decision of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am so blessed to have such an amazing family that has supported me throughout the year and to gain an amazing husband who only wants the best for me is a true blessing.
LVN: What did you notice differently in college after pitching in two state titles in high school?
Jill Pinder: In high school as a pitcher, I could get away with missing down the middle or getting it too close on the plate when I was up in the count and batters wouldn’t take advantage of that. In college when I made that mistake, I definitely paid the price for it. Batters are capitalizing on every mistake you make as a pitcher. I think when playing at this level and getting a batter out is definitely more rewarding since I thought I worked harder for it.
LVN: How would you rate your first year?
JP: For my freshman year I thought it went pretty well, but there is definite room for improvement. Freshman year is definitely a growing year, and now that I know what to expect I will be going in the next three years with a very different mindset. I want to make a name for myself at this school.
LVN: What do you want to achieve in college when you’re not striking people out?
JP: Currently I plan on majoring in environmental studies so I would like to be successful in the classes that I take in that major. I also am trying to join different clubs to branch out more and become more involved in the school.
LVN: What stood out for you this season?
JP: For softball, it would have to be when my parents were sitting in the outfield and saw me pitch my first collegiate win. Throwing the last pitch for strike three and hearing my parents say how proud they were of me, nothing could ever beat that moment.
LVN: Although it’s still three years away, but what plans do you have after graduation?
JP: After college, I would love to be a graduate assistant to continue on with environmental studies, and if an opportunity arises for me to play professionally, I would most definitely do it. I want to play the sport as long as possible.