Kristen Stinnard is a well-rounded softball player and has the awards to prove it.A year after being recognized by the Cox Mill Chargers as the team’s defensive player of the year, Stinnard had an All-South Piedmont Conference season at the plate in 2013 and was named the Chargers’ offensive player of the year.The centerfielder graduated earlier this month and will attend Catawba College in fall to play on the Indians’ softball team.This summer, Stinnard will play her second season with the Dazzle Elite 18-and-younger tournament team, based in the Piedmont Triad area. A teammate will be fellow Cox Mill player Ericka David, a rising senior and SPC Player of the Year.Cox Mill coach Brian Miller says Stinnard’s senior season was a product of her adapting to the “slap” style of hitting. As a left-handed batter, Stinnard has a knack for slapping at balls as she shifts her feet forward in the batter’s box while the pitch approaches.At the start of her junior season, Miller approached Stinnard about slapping instead of being a traditional hitter. Stinnard was open to the idea because she had learned the skill from tournament coaches Charles Kimery and Pat Moyer.“If you do it properly, you can hit it in the gap,” said Miller. “She can place it on the left side of the infield so well. She slapped off the tees, slapped in the batting cage, and was very receptive to it. It made my job a lot easier.”Stinnard was consistent throughout the 2013 season, but there were clusters of games when she was on an absolute tear. In early March, Stinnard’s 5-for-5 performance against Mount Pleasant began a three-game stretch of 11 hits in 14 at-bats and 7 RBIs.In mid-April, after the end of spring break, Stinnard went 10-for-15, drove in nine runs and scored eight more over a four-game period. Near the end of the season, she had seven hits in 11 at-bats and scored four runs in three games.“I don’t think about hitting,” said Stinnard. “I go up there knowing I can do it. I don’t stress about striking out or not getting on base.“I slap. It’s hard to keep moving forward. I keep my hands in and make sure my feet are lined up moving forward instead of pulling out.”Stinnard failed to hit safely in just two of 23 games. She finished the season batting .526, scoring 23 runs and driving in 18.A four-year starter for Cox Mill, Stinnard also throws left-handed. She said she had such a fine season defensively last year because so many more balls were hit to her than this year.“Footwork is something I keep my eye on,” said Stinnard. “Against left-handed batters, I try to work myself to one side of the field. I try to make sure I’m moving the direction the ball is going.”Stinnard plays left field for the Dazzle Elite. The team will play in tournaments every weekend this summer through Aug. 11, including the Amateur Softball Association nationals July 27-Aug. 4 in Roanoke, Va.She said she likes playing for the Dazzle Elite because many teammates have either signed to play in college or have an interest in doing so.Stinnard chose Catawba College over Lees-McRae and is leaning toward studying sports management.“Sports is what I like to do,” said Stinnard. “So I’m seeing if that field can give me something I can do for the rest of my life.”
Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2013
Versatility makes centerfielder for Concord Cox Mill stand out
Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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