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Small-Town Girl Makes History in the Big City

Senior Pitcher Sara Kinney Made Four-Year Stint As A Fordham Ram Worthwhile

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2007

Updated: Saturday, April 11, 2009 16:04

Senior pitcher Sara Kinney currently holds all softball records at Fordham except for one. She has left her mark on Fordham as the winningnest pitcher with the most shutouts and complete games.

The women's softball team has been one of the most successful squads representing Fordham this season. A big part of that success has been senior starting pitching ace Sara Kinney. The 5'4'' right-hander hails from Dripping Springs, Texas, which is a much smaller place to grow up in compared to New York City.

"Growing up in Dripping Springs was pretty normal. It is a very small town. Everyone in town knows everyone, which can obviously be good and bad. High school sports are very important there, especially football. It really is all the things which are typical of a small Texas town," Kinney said.

She began playing softball at a very young age. The reason for many kids starting a sport is because their friends do too and this holds true for Kinney as well.

"I first started playing softball because all my friends were. In a small town, we always did things together. My childhood was awesome. My family was really important and always around; I had plenty of friends. I loved school and played several sports," the right-hander said.

Family and friends were an important part of her life growing up. Softball can be a sport that involves many ups and downs, streaks and slumps. To help her reduce those downs and slumps, she had a very strong support system backing her.

"My family is a huge source of support for me. The only major struggle was getting hit in the face with a line drive when I was 14. It was hard to get back out there and overcome the fear of it happening again," Kinney recalled.

Athletes normally have supportive people who they turn to when they struggle or face hardships. Fortunately for Kinney, she did not have to look far.

"My dad is the person who had the most influence over me. He steered me in the right direction. He is incredibly successful and always made sure his girls were happy and motivated to do what we love no matter what that is," she said.

Kinney's ability to fire a softball into the strike zone and flat-out embarrass hitters made her appealing to many collegiate programs. However, she decided on Fordham over all the other schools. This choice would eventually lead to her becoming one of the most successful Rams in school history.

"I always wanted to move to New York City. Though I had a great childhood, I was tired of living in a small town and wanted to move to the big city. And [Head Coach] Bridget [Orchard] recruited me," Kinney said.

Making the transition from high school to college can be overwhelming and difficult, especially for an athlete. Though Kinney made her adjustments quickly, having a supportive team did not hurt either.

"The difference between high school and college is that high school is pitching from 40 feet and college is from 43 feet. That was the first challenge. Another was facing much more aggressive hitters. I had never given up a home run until college, so I really had to learn how to bounce back from big hits and not get down, which is easy to do when you have teammates that pick you up as well as mine do," she said.

Kinney has broken every single Fordham pitching record except for one. Except for lowest ERA in , she is the owner of all the pitching records. To be the school's leader in wins (61), complete games (60), innings pitched (606.1), strikeouts (499), shutouts (14) and saves (11) is incredible. To be the leader in wins and saves speaks tremendous volumes in itself and showcases her versatility. Kinney may not be the leader in ERA, but she is not trailing by much. She had a 2.02 clip since her freshman year. This outstanding stat is right behind Michelle Schlichtig's 1.46 ERA. Kinney's ERA is the product of four years, while Schlichtig's was over two seasons. It is harder for Kinney to maintain such a low ERA due to the larger body of work.

Kinney is proud to be one of the greatest pitchers Fordham has ever seen. "It's definitely an honor," she said. "But I think the biggest accomplishment is really helping to build a program here that is becoming more and more successful on the national level."

Head Coach Bridget Orchard is in her sixth season at Fordham and is improving the program at an outstanding pace.

"Bridget is a lot of fun. She makes sure that being on her team is not just about softball," Kinney said, "We become great friends with our teammates and have made some great memories on and off the field."

It is unfortunate that Fordham will not have Kinney starting games for them for another four years. She has helped make the softball program truly a legitimate one - one which high school seniors should look towards as being something they want to be a part of. She has not only improved the program immensely on the pitching side, but also on the team's overall mentality and mindset.

Kinney's contributions will not be forgotten, even after she graduates, because her pitching records should serve as reminders of a terrific and dominating four-year career.

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