FAIRMONT — A pair of Clay-Battelle alumni are making noise at the collegiate level of softball.
The 2021 season for Fairmont State’s softball program was anything but typical. From weekly COVID-19 testing to mandated masks in classrooms, team practices and games, the season had rollercoaster-esque peaks and lows.
Through it all, two teammates found some familiarity in the Falcons infield.
Abbey Ammons and Caitlyn Kassay are childhood friends and have been softball teammates since their middle school days. The roommates are just beginning their participation at the collegiate level, citing high hopes for next season after exiting the Mountain East Conference tournament in May.
Making it to the conference tournament was not an easy path, however. With games being canceled or postponed throughout the season, many were rescheduled to be played on weekdays, causing conflicting schedules with school.
“Softball was always an escape from the daily struggles with experiencing the global pandemic. It was a time for hard work but also fun,” Ammons said. “With the shortened semester, it was a challenge to tackle the many obstacles of being a student-athlete. There were many sleepless nights of studying and cramming, and there were countless rescheduled exams, quizzes and lab practicals due to games.”
Ammons just finished up her junior year, but Kassay has only been with the program for two years and considers the 2021 season to be her first year, as last season was halted. She attributes her ability to adjust to the next level of softball to using Ammons’s extra year of experience as a resource when it comes to understanding the competitive differences compared to softball at Clay-Battelle.
“In college, you definitely have to be a lot more disciplined and listen to what your coaches are saying and really take into account the practice that you do and how it applies to when you’re in game,” Kassay said.
The duo has brought a piece of home and familiarity to Fairmont that can be used to understand their success and failures in the classroom and on the field moving forward.
For the upcoming season, the two are hard at work on improving their play as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease. The team is returning to a full-scale off-season program as it prepares for high-level non-conference competition this fall.
While Ammons is focusing primarily on raising her batting average, Kassay says that she seeks to improve in the weight room in order to provide even more dominant pitching. The team has its sights set on a NCAA Division II tournament appearance next season and has confidence in their young talent’s ability to step up and fill the roles left by graduating players.
On the mound, Kassay appeared in 17 games and tossed 76 1/3 innings in her first collegiate season, posting a 1.38 ERA and striking out 50.
Ammons started 22 games and tallied nine hits in 50 at-bats.
Ammons is a pre-pharmacy major and has plans to join the healthcare field by attending a physician assistant program to be able to make a difference in the lives of many individuals. Kassay, an education major, is currently considering pursuing a master’s degree, with the option of extending her softball career due to the cancellation of the 2020 season.