MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — There’s something different about Clay-Battelle pitcher Caitlyn Kassay this season.
It’s a subtle change. One might not notice it if they aren’t looking closely, or aren’t familiar with her game.
For Cee-Bees head coach Butch Varner, it was quite easy to spot. Her demeanor on the mound had completely changed.
“She’s growing into controlling the mental part of her game. One big thing I think she’s done is not allowing outside forces or factors to affect what she’s doing,” Varner said. “It doesn’t matter where we go, and I’ll do it as a coach too, they’ll look at her pitching style to try to affect her strategically, but she’s done a great job of harnessing her competitiveness and not let it get to her.”
Kassay, who will pitch collegiately at Fairmont State, has been a force in her senior season, striking out 77 of 110 batters and allowing just 11 hits and four runs to help guide her team to a 7-0 start.
She credits her composure and focus to stepping into a role as a senior leader and realizing the responsibilities that come along with the job.
As a result, she’s began to notice it’s much easier to control the tempo and atmosphere of a game.
“Coming in as a senior, it was a shock to me. You don’t feel like a senior, but you realize this is really it. I give a lot of credit to Coach Varner for giving me an example to look at and show me how to lead a team like this,” she said. “I’ve worked a lot and keeping my poise, controlling my temper, and keeping my attitude in check when other team’s try to get to me. That’s helped me in situations where last year, I would have flown off the handle.”
Kassay’s development as a leader could be a key to success for the Cee-Bees down the stretch this spring, as she fills a leadership void that was occupied by upperclassman in previous seasons.
Her success at adjusting to the role provided the glue needed to hold the unit together.
“She’s growing in her team leadership and her mentorship of other players. A team’s only as a good as its weakest link, and any time you can encourage and mentor those players it makes your team better,” Varner said. “She’s had a lot of success where she was the young female on the team and she only had to take care of her game — there were upperclassman. Now she’s the upperclassman, and it’s up to her to take on that role.”
Now, Kassay hopes to use her role to lead the Cee-Bees to the state tournament. Despite immense success over the past four years, Clay-Battelle’s never been there.
“Personally, that would mean the world to me. Coming from such a small school, we’re underestimated each time we step on the field. Being able to bring a team like that to the state tournament and represent my team and community would mean everything to me; it would be so special,” she said.