116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Kaylin Kinney understood that there would be a period of adjustment. She didn’t expect to dominate the way she did in high school.
On the other hand, she didn’t expect to struggle.
“I had heard a lot about physical anxiety, and it’s a real thing,” said Kinney, a freshman softball player at the University of Nebraska.
“It’s been a real eye-opener. But it’s been a good experience, and I’m glad I experienced it.”
Kinney’s breakthrough came last weekend, when she went 4-for-5 with three home runs and six RBIs as Nebraska (20-16) completed a four-game sweep of Maryland. She also started the third game of the series in the pitching circle and allowed one run in five innings.
Friday: 3 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m. (DH)
As a reward, she was honored as the Big Ten player of the week.
“Going into the weekend, I knew we were going to face a pitcher that threw 72 (miles per hour), so I really focused on keeping my head still and making solid contact,” Kinney said Wednesday. “I was able to see the ball big, relax and do my routine at the plate.”
In one stretch, she hit home runs in three consecutive plate appearances. For somebody who enjoyed a dominant five-year career at Cedar Rapids Kennedy, that was a new trick.
“It’s refreshing getting some good opportunities to hit,” said Kinney, who hit 55 home runs (and was walked 156 times) at Kennedy.
Kinney usually hits in the 5 or 7 slot for the Huskers, who visit Iowa (20-16) in a four-game series Friday through Sunday at Iowa City. The teams are tied for fifth in the Big Ten.
Her surge last weekend allowed her batting average to climb from .220 to its current .266 mark. She has four homers and 11 RBIs.
“At this level, every single pitcher can spin the ball,” she said. “You have to learn how to hit a curve or a riseball that breaks out of the zone.”
In the circle, Kinney is 1-1 with a 4.02 ERA. She has struck out 14 and walked 12 in 31 1/3 innings.
“It’s gotten a lot better,” she said. “The first couple of outings were a struggle. I’ve always known the value of the changeup. But at the Division-I level, hitting that change is a game-changer.”
Kinney said the anxiety to perform came shortly after she arrived at Lincoln.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” she said. “I’ve always had high standards, but it just kind of took over when I got here.
“But I’ve been learning a lot, and the coaches have been great, understanding it’s a process. I’m starting to feel more comfortable. I’m focusing on the mental side of the game, trying to control what I can control.”
A North Liberty native, Klosterman hit .615 last weekend and scored six runs in a sweep of Rutgers, hitting her first two career home runs.