Kaitlyn Stavinoha heads strong rookie class for UMass softball

By Zach Larkin

(Robert Rigo/ Daily Collegian)
(Robert Rigo/ Daily Collegian)

Taking a look down the Massachusetts softball team’s roster this year, one major thing comes to mind: youth.

UMass (4-9) entered the season with six freshmen on its roster and most of this group, headlined by infielder Kaitlyn Stavinoha, figure to be major parts of the Minutewomen’s  success moving forward.

Stavinoha hails from The Woodlands, Texas, where she had a stellar high school career, finishing with a career .383 batting average while being named to numerous regional teams.

When asked about Stavinoha, UMass coach Kristi Stefanoni has high praise

“We are lucky to have her,” Stefanoni said, “Our program has Texas roots and we had alum telling us we needed to check this kid out”.

The word luck was emphasized, as Stavinoha’s recruitment did not take place until the very end of the Minutewomen’s recruitment period.

“She is aggressive, she brings a lot of energy to the table and is a fun player to watch,”  Stefanoni said. “She is powerful, has a lot of speed and is great on defense.”

Stavinoha has begun her collegiate career on a strong note, batting .400 with a triple, three RBIs and a stolen base in UMass’ opening weekend.  She earned the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week award for the week of February 15.

“I didn’t even know I had won that,” Stavinoha said. “I was so focused on all of the things that I could have done better.”

Stavinoha said the transition to playing a college sport was easy for her because of her experience playing travel softball in the past.

While Stavinoha has cooled off over these last few weeks – she’s now 10-for-43 at the playe – Stefanoni says she’s not concerned.

“She has been making solid contact, but (she’s) just hitting it right at people. She has RBI capabilities and will be called upon to put the ball in play this season,” Stefanoni said.

Stavinoha continues to show great versatility in the field, getting reps at both second and third base, and she will be called upon to play both positions as the season continues.

She added she is not satisfied by her early season success and reiterated that there is still a long way to go to sustain success at the collegiate level.

A major thing Stavinoha prides herself is her energy on the field.

“I always try to keep my energy up, I try to stay positive,” Stavinoha said.

Stavinoha has started all 13 games for the Minutewomen so far this season and is batting .233 with five RBIs in 2016.

As far as the transition from playing in Texas to playing in the ever-changing Amherst spring weather, she welcomes the challenge of competing in the northeast.

“Its different, softball fields don’t freeze in Texas,” Stavinoha said with a laugh. “But we don’t miss a beat.”

The Minutewomen return to play Friday when they take on Robert Morris and No.19 Minnesota in the frontend of Florida Atlantic’s Parents’ Weekend Tournament.

Zach Larkin can be reached at [email protected]