On Feb. 20 against Youngstown State, sophomore center fielder Kristi Cady did something that she didn’t do her entire freshman season at St. John’s.
She belted her first career home run, which was a grand slam over the left field fence, in helping her team to a 10-0 victory.
It was only the beginning, of what so far has been quite a turnaround from last season for the Red Storm’s center fielder.
“I was really excited [about the first home run], and it shows that hard work pays off,” said Cady.
Cady started all 48 of the Red Storm’s games during her freshman season last year, but struggled mightily at the plate, batting .197 with just eight RBI. It was a very difficult start to a collegiate career for a player who has had a life-long goal of playing softball at a Division I school.
“I got down on myself,” said Cady. “It was a downward spiral. I didn’t have a mental plan, but I knew that I had to change.”
The “change” that Cady needed to make has turned her into a rising star on the St. John’s softball team, which culminated in her being named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll for the week of March 8-14. During that week, she led the team with a .435 batting average, two home runs and seven RBI.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Cady of the award. “It’s very special to me, and the whole team has always supported me.”
Through 20 games this season, Cady is batting .418, and has hit three home runs and has driven in 17 runs. Her batting average is tied for second-best on the team behind Kacee Cox, who is batting .441, while she leads the team in RBI, and is tied with Cox for the most home runs this season.
The turnaround has come as no surprise to Head Coach Amy Kvilhaug.
“It’s not a surprise. She has a natural ability, she’s worked very hard and is more mature,” said Kvilhaug.
Kvilhaug also said that Cady is “mentally strong” and is able to bounce back.
Cady’s spectacular start to the season is due in large part to what she referred to as, “going back to basics.”
“I shortened up everything,” she said. “I started hitting with a slapping position, where I’m just looking to make contact,” said Cady. She also attributes her improvement at the plate to having a year of experience, and that she is “seeing everything a lot better.”
Although Cady comes up to the plate with the intention to just make contact, she has done more than that this season. She’s tied for the team lead with three home runs.
“Before I came to college, I was kind of a power hitter,” said Cady. “Right now, I don’t think as a power hitter, I’m just doing what I know how to do.”
But has this incredible start to the season lifted a weight off Cady’s shoulders?
“I don’t think I had a weight [on my shoulders]. I just contributed to the team, knowing that the next person behind you is going to pick you up.”