SOFTBALL STAR FINDS NEW HOME IN MISSISSIPPI
Kacey Hvitved has often played in front of a crowd you can count by hand.
Now it’s time for multiple hundreds, sometimes thousands – not to mention thousands more watching on TV.
Hvitved, who starred at third base and shortstop in her only season with SCC softball last year, is now playing at the highest level with the University of Mississippi. They are just two years removed from reaching the Super Regional round of the NCAA tournament.
Looking for a way to follow her dream of playing Division I softball, Hvitved contacted many coaches, just hoping for a shot.
“I looked into who the coaches were and (what) their experiences were,” Hvitved said . “I got to know the coaches before I emailed them. I emailed at least 30 schools and got 1 reply – Ole Miss.”
Hvitved had never been to Mississippi and has no family nearby. She never had a chance to visit the school before making her decision, nor did the coaches ever have a chance to see her play in person.
“I just took a chance and decided I was going to experience something new,” Hvitved said. “I love it; this is my new home.”
Ole Miss Head Coach Mike Smith said the power in Hvitved’s swing is what got his attention in her skills video, but he’s liked what he’s seen defensively as the Rebels have gone through fall practices.
“(Hvitved) has quick hands at third base,” Smith said. “She has a really good arm for throwing across the diamond.”
Originally from Norco, California, Hvitved moved to Monroe in second grade. During her four years starring with the Bearcats, she claimed numerous records in Monroe’s record book. Now, Hvitved holds the Monroe record for single-season and career totals in home runs, runs batted in and batting average.
Hvitved had a pair of options to play Division I softball directly out of high school, receiving walk-on offers to play at Eastern Kentucky and Cal State Bakersfield. Instead, she decided to keep her options open, playing with SCC for a year and fine-tuning her skills.
In over 130 plate appearances with the Phins, Hvitved struck out just three times, putting her among the league’s toughest to strike out. SCC Head Coach Ben Reindel points to that as one reason she can sustain her success at the highest level.
“Her strikeouts will go up (with the tougher competition), but I don’t think it’ll be a number to be afraid of,” Reindel said.
The physical tools — her power, throwing arm, speed, and so on — made Hvitved a prospect. But Reindel thinks some of her best traits are instincts that can’t be taught.
“She has good speed, not elite,” Reindel said. “But what caught my eye when I first recruited her is that she has great instincts on the bases. She can read when the pitch is only halfway to the batter that it will be in the dirt and take bases that way.”
The season is still more than three months away. But even in the off-season, the experience has left a mark on the new Rebels infielder.
“It’s been the best two months of my life,” she said, choking up slightly. “I can’t say one bad thing about this school.”