Coming to CSU was about academics as much as athletics for softball pitcher Kacie McCarthy.
She transferred from Division-II Chico State for the 2011 season to pursue a degree in animal science in addition to playing softball.
“Being able to come to one of the best, if not the best, animal science programs in the country was an honor and a great opportunity,” McCarthy said. “Being able to go to school here and get the education I wanted made my decision that much easier.”
CSU coach Jen Fisher first became aware of McCarthy when she was still coaching at Metro State. McCarthy helped lead her team to the Division-II NCAA Tournament her freshman year, finishing with 17 wins and a 2.06 ERA.
Chico State coach Angel Shamblin declined to comment due to her team’s current preparation for the 2012 Division-II NCAA Tournament.
“She had a little bit of a disappointing sophomore year because there was a coaching staff change,” Fisher said. “She was granted a release (from her scholarship), and she contacted Colorado State.”
In her first season as a Ram, McCarthy quickly emerged as the team’s ace. She leads the team in every meaningful statistical category and has almost doubled CSU’s win total from last season by herself.
“Having a harder time her sophomore year made her more hungry,” Fisher said. “She became really appreciative of all the opportunities and coaching she received here. She’s somebody you want to play behind.”
The transition to Division-I wasn’t bowling-lane smooth for McCarthy, however. She had to get used to a higher level of talent up and down lineups.
“Every person in your lineup is a contender, so there’s that much more that you have to be prepared for and understand,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy has also emerged as a mentor and leader as much as a star pitcher. Her experience in the Division-II NCAA Tournament has allowed her to teach CSU’s young staff everything she has learned at two levels of college softball.
“Her team lost in the Super Regional to the eventual D-II national champion, so that experience was really important for us,” Fisher said. “When we went after Kacie we wanted to bring in some experience, and some pitchers that wanted the ball in their hands, and Kacie has been that for us.”
McCarthy’s been grateful for how eager her teammates are to learn from her experience.
“Having people that acknowledge you and take to heart what you have to say makes you feel better about yourself,” McCarthy said.
Despite the need for strong pitching after the Ram’s performance last year, McCarthy hasn’t felt any pressure to be dominant every single game.
“It was a role that I’ve naturally been able to excel in,” McCarthy said. “It’s awesome knowing your coaches have the faith in you to count on you when the time calls for it.”
Opportunity will likely come knocking often during the next month as CSU enters its final stretch of games in the 2012 season.
“She never takes a day off. There’s a couple things that she definitely wants to tighten up over the break,” Fisher said. “She’s already very physically and mentally strong, but she’ll continue to work and continue to grow.”
Softball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.
Kacie McCarthy by the Numbers
.253 opponent batting average (4th MW)
132.2 innings pitched (3rd MW)
43 opponents struck out looking (1st MW)
15 wins (2nd MW)