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.
â€œBeing 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,â€ McCarthy said. â€œBeing able to go to school here and get the education I wanted made my decision that much easier.â€
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 teamâ€™s current preparation for the 2012 Division-II NCAA Tournament.
â€œShe had a little bit of a disappointing sophomore year because there was a coaching staff change,â€ Fisher said. â€œShe was granted a release (from her scholarship), and she contacted Colorado State.â€
In her first season as a Ram, McCarthy quickly emerged as the teamâ€™s ace. She leads the team in every meaningful statistical category and has almost doubled CSUâ€™s win total from last season by herself.
â€œHaving a harder time her sophomore year made her more hungry,â€ Fisher said. â€œShe became really appreciative of all the opportunities and coaching she received here. Sheâ€™s somebody you want to play behind.â€
The transition to Division-I wasnâ€™t bowling-lane smooth for McCarthy, however. She had to get used to a higher level of talent up and down lineups.
â€œEvery person in your lineup is a contender, so thereâ€™s that much more that you have to be prepared for and understand,â€ 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 CSUâ€™s young staff everything she has learned at two levels of college softball.
â€œHer team lost in the Super Regional to the eventual D-II national champion, so that experience was really important for us,â€ Fisher said. â€œWhen 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.â€
McCarthyâ€™s been grateful for how eager her teammates are to learn from her experience.
â€œHaving people that acknowledge you and take to heart what you have to say makes you feel better about yourself,â€ McCarthy said.
Despite the need for strong pitching after the Ramâ€™s performance last year, McCarthy hasnâ€™t felt any pressure to be dominant every single game.
â€œIt was a role that Iâ€™ve naturally been able to excel in,â€ McCarthy said. â€œItâ€™s awesome knowing your coaches have the faith in you to count on you when the time calls for it.â€
Opportunity will likely come knocking often during the next month as CSU enters its final stretch of games in the 2012 season.
â€œShe never takes a day off. Thereâ€™s a couple things that she definitely wants to tighten up over the break,â€ Fisher said. â€œSheâ€™s already very physically and mentally strong, but sheâ€™ll continue to work and continue to grow.â€
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)