Katie Kennard has some advice for the underclassmen and newcomers on the Plymouth State University softball team.
“Make sure you’re having fun and you do your best,” she told the Monitor on Thursday. “Leave it all out on the field so that you won’t regret anything.”
That’s the mindset Kennard, a senior from Concord, is sticking with through her final season as a Panther. And so far, it’s working.
After two seasons batting over .370 with more than 200 at-bats, Kennard is chasing 51 hits this spring, which would bring her career total to 150. That won’t be easy with 16 games already behind her, and it will take more than a handful of games with multiple hits.
Another few games like the Panthers’ 5-3 win over Wesleyan on March 22 would help Kennard’s pursuit. She went 3-for-4 at the plate with a double that afternoon in Clermont, Fla.
Rewind a week earlier to Plymouth State’s opening day double-header where the Panthers (8-8) took wins against Rutgers-Newark, 5-4, and MCLA, 6-1. Kennard scattered four hits that day with two doubles, driving in five runs. She crossed the plate once herself as well.
Kennard is a hitter and she’s happy her coach, Bruce Addison, recognized her strength and placed her at first base. Assistant Coach Lee Makris, a hitting and outfield specialist, has helped her along the way as well.
“I’ve been given the opportunity to achieve and I thank my coaches for that,” she said. “But I know I can do better and I hope I do better.”
Another player from the capital area off to a good start is Hannah Seidner, a sophomore pitcher from Pembroke.
Seidner is new to Plymouth State after transferring from NHTI. A 2015 graduate of Pembroke Academy, Seidner chose to spend a year close to home while figuring out what her college path would be. That sentiment steered her up to Plymouth State, where her parents are able to make the easy drive up I-93 North to catch a game.
“Academics come first, but I wanted to play softball and I wanted to play here,” the business major said.
Seidner earned a pair of saves in Florida and is second on the team with 13 strikeouts, though with a 4.58 ERA, she hopes to cut down on runs allowed by the end of the season.
Seidner still has plenty of time to develop. She said the team environment and coaching is pushing her in the right direction.
“I have a competitive mind set and I think that’s why I mesh with the team,” she said. “Everyone here is ready to practice every day for longer than just two hours. … It takes a lot to learn the coaches and catchers.”
It helped that Seidner and freshman catcher Haley Birch were paired together as roommates.
“She’s my roommate and my best friend,” Seidner said. “She’s learning my on and off pitches very fast.”
Seidner brings a curve, screwball, changeup and rise ball to the circle. Her curve and changeup are her go-to pitches.
Seidner earned her second save in Florida in a 2-1 win over Carleton on March 22. She entered in the bottom of the seventh with one out and runners on first and second. The first batter grounded out and the second went down on strikes to end the game.
“No runs, so I felt like I really did my job,” Seidner said. “My goal is to get more first-pitch strikes. I’m trying to mix up my pitches while being able to get ahead in the count. No situations where I have to throw across the middle of the plate.”
Seidner is focused on improving her game from inside the circle like Kennard has during her career from the batter’s box.
“Every day is getting better,” Seidner said. “The competition level is more competitive here and the commitment level is a lot more.”
No room here for regrets.
(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3339, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NickStoico.)