DELAND – Fleming Island High graduate K.K. Leddy has been on the road since February 10 with her North Dakota State University softball team avoiding the harsh North Dakota winters in places like …
DELAND – Fleming Island High graduate K.K. Leddy has been on the road since February 10 with her North Dakota State University softball team avoiding the harsh North Dakota winters in places like California, Arizona, South Carolina, Louisiana and this past weekend, Deland, Florida.
“I love my team,” said Leddy, after the Bisons lost a thriller 7-6 game to Columbia University on Sat., March 11 with a handful of home runs on both sides. “It’s definitely been a good fit.”
As one of a small handful of returners on the Bison softball team that played in last year’s NCAA Division I regional playoffs in Seattle and finished with a 39-15 won/loss record including a 17-0 slate in Summit League conference play, Leddy, a sophomore, has fought through some injuries, surgeries and a youthful lineup to keep the Bisons on track in a 10-14 season start.
“No one on the field was a starter last year,” said Leddy. “It’s definitely challenging just trying to be the leader on the team. “
North Dakota coach Darren Mueller has just one senior on his roster, redshirt catcher Alyssa Reina, with a lineup of underclassmen to take the reigns of one of the best seasons in his 23 year history. Reina is currently ailing with a thumb injury which leaves Leddy as the lone returner.
“She (Alyssa) is injured now with a thumb injury,” said Leddy. “She was a starter last year. All we can do is do our job on the field.”
For Mueller, the challenge is keeping his ace pitcher on the mound.
“One thing is that K.K. has not been able to pitch in our fall schedule,” said Mueller. “We had to hold her out until January because of arm issues. Fall is when we work on her pitches and some adjustments. Her upside is still coming if we can keep her healthy.”
Mueller cited that Leddy’s game attitude on the mound has made her the leader of the Bisons thus far.
“She’s got that power pitcher mentality,” said Mueller. “We had to take one of her pitches away to avoid further injury. College softball is a little bit of both power and finesse.”
Mueller noted that area coach Jennifer Ritter in Clay County, a friend, gave him the heads up on a pitcher and they made the effort to offer Leddy the scholarship.
“Jenny did North Dakota games for ESPN in the regionals and just stayed in touch,” said Mueller. “She told us about K.K.”
In Deland, at the Stetson University Westin Invitational, Leddy and her Bisons won four games; two over Manhattan College, one over Stetson and one over Colgate with a homer-fest 7-6 loss to Columbia University on Saturday. Leddy gave up one homer in the second inning off a fastball with a three balls, two strike count before being replaced in the third inning with the score 4-2.
“We’ve been on the road for five weeks,” said Mueller. “It’s up to the young players to quickly learn to play together. We graduated five seniors from last year.”
Mueller said Leddy, who was the Summit League tournament most valuable player last year, used her intensity to gain confidence from his seniors. Leddy was also an Summit League All-Tournament selection last year as well as earning a Summit League pitcher of the week award. Leddy was a second team All-Summit League selection too.
“They fed off her intensty,” said Mueller. “She came in and shut the door on the opposing team in relief. She has a big personality when she is out there.”
From Deland, Leddy, who pitched and won the Bisons first game in Deland (vs. Manhattan) with seven strikeouts in the 3-2 win on March 10, will travel to Gainesville to take on the twice-national champion Gators of the University of Florida, second ranked in NCAA Division I, then go south to Clearwater for a major tournament against the likes of third-ranked Auburn, 22nd-ranked South Florida, 40th-ranked Ohio State, 11th-ranked Missouri and 116th-ranked Rutgers.
From Clearwater, the schedule goes to Atlanta for a three-game series against Georgia Tech then a three-game stint at Fort Wayne, IN before heading home to Fargo where temperatures hovered around 16 degrees on Sunday.
“The weather is a big difference between here and North Dakota obviously, but the biggest difference is the level of intensity at the college level,” said Leddy, who noted that the Bisons home games start in April. “I don’t care how big a travel ball team you played for in high school, there is no comparison with the intensity level.”
2016: 29 appearances, 21 game starts, 10 complete games. 14-8 record with two shutouts, 4.14 earned run average. Struck out 77, walked 61.
2017: 40.2 innings pitched, 3.61 ERA, 2-4 record with 21 strikeouts (8 vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, March 3).