When you look at a softball team and try to pick out the power hitters, most eyes will be drawn to the players guarding the lines at first and third base, rather than the diminutive 5-6 frame scooping grounders at second-base.
This however, is not the case for the Cornell softball team as senior co-captain, Erin Kizer, is producing power numbers which are seldom seen at her second-base position. Twenty games into the season, Kizer leads the team with 14 RBI and is one of three Red starters with two homeruns. Just don’t try and call her a power-hitter.
“When I get up I just try and hit the ball,” Kizer said. “I’m not looking to get extra-base hits, I just want to hit the ball solidly.”
Kizer has been doing just that since the season began, as she hit a homerun in just the team’s second game of the year — a 9-1 win over George Mason.
Yet, while Kizer may lead the team in an important statistical category, it is her implicit leadership which is most important to the Red. On a team with eleven freshmen, Kizer is one of only three returning seniors from last year’s Ivy League championship winning team, making her position as one of the team’s on-the-field leaders all the more crucial.
Rather than be an outspoken and verbal leader, Kizer prefers to lead by example and be a positive role model for those around her.
“I just try and set a good example for the underclassmen,” Kizer said. “We have such a young team that it’s important I help them along by mentioning areas of improvement and lifting them up because they have to grow up fast.”
Following Kizer’s lead may not be such a bad idea, as she has been a consistent producer in the Red’s lineup and has helped anchor the defense up the middle for the last three years.
That experience will be needed to guide the Red back to the top of the Ivy League, a goal which Kizer doesn’t find unattainable.
“I think we can get back there, but we’re going to need to play our A-game every day,” Kizer said. “It will be a tough because the other teams have been playing well, but as long as we play hard, we’ll have a good chance.”
The Red have been playing well as a team, and are currently 12-9 heading into the heart of its season. While Kizer’s play is certainly part of the Red’s success, she cites the play of its freshmen as another integral part of the early-season success.
“The major difference from last year is the team’s youth,” Kizer said. “But they all have been doing a great job and have really stepped it up.”
Freshman outfielders Jenna Campagnolo and Ashley Wolf have been two contributing members of the young class, getting on base at the top of the lineup and setting the stage for the heart of the order which includes All-American shortstop, Lauren May. With so much action taking place ahead of her in the lineup, Kizer, who usually bats sixth, finds herself with numerous chances to hit with runners on base.
“They have been doing a good job getting on base,” Kizer said. “It’s great to hit with runners on, but it does add a bit more pressure.”
If statistics can be any indication, Kizer has been more than up to the challenge thus far, and will continue to lead in the stat-book, as well as on the field.
Archived article by Matt Gorman
Sun Staff Writer