On a team with only two seniors, one can expect leadership to be at a premium; yet, seniors Kai Stone and Amanda Kocis are up to the challenge.
“I’m a very vocal leader,” said Stone, who was recently voted team MVP by her teammates. “By starting last year, I’ve been able to bring some of that experience with me this season.”
A defensive threat in center and a contact hitter at the plate, Stone has made her presence felt on the field and in the locker room.
“I try to keep everyone upbeat,” she said. “I can see when something negative is happening and I try to bring us together so we can regroup and move on.”
Stone came to CSU via Kailua High School in Kailua, Hawaii where she lettered in volleyball, softball and basketball.
The three-time state softball champion was also named to Hawaii’s all-state softball team twice and won the1998 athlete of the year award,
Apart from providing leadership to a young team, Stone has also taken it upon herself to improve her game from last season; so far she has done just that.
After getting 17 hits in 46 games last season /_” her first as a starter /_” Stone has managed to match that mark through 31 games while maintaining a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
While Stone patrols the outfield, it is fellow senior Kocis’s responsibility to bring that leadership to the infield.
Though she has had to adjust to playing first base after starting at second in her first three seasons, Kocis said the change has helped her to learn along with her teammates.
“It’s like having four freshman on the infield,” Kocis said. “Everyone is learning something new everyday.”
Allthough the prospect of having four infielders learning their positions does not sound beneficial, Kocis said the group is starting to gel.
“Slowly but surely it’s coming along,” she said. “Basically with each game we get more mature and better at our positions.”
Being a full-time starter since her freshman year, Kocis has had to deal with a lot of changes and adversity.
“Having played under different coaches I’ve had to learn a lot of different hitting styles and techniques,” Kocis said. “I’ve really come into my own and it’s now all coming together for me.”
Though going through numerous coaching changes has not been easy for her, Kocis said such experiences have strengthened her mental approach to the game.
Much like Stone, Kocis /_” a four-time letter winner in volleyball, basketball and softball of Lanphier High School in Springfield, Illinois /_” has put up career-high numbers at the plate.
By batting .314 with 13 RBIs and 10 runs scored through 31 games, Kocis has eclipsed her numbers from previous seasons while helping turn the Rams into contenders.
“We are the sleepers of the conference,” Kocis said. “We have a really good opportunity to show the conference the type of team we are.” n