COLLEGE SOFTBALL: Kvistad making impact early at South Alabama
Facing unfamiliar competition while adapting to new surroundings, it’s no shocker when a freshman struggles, almost a certainty for any rookie.
All apart of the learning curve, so they say.
Yet Kamdyn Kvistad has defied the odds in her first year playing at South Alabama.
And the Lake City product has shown no signs of slowing down after claiming the Sunbelt Conference Player of the Week Award this past week. She received the nod – her first of her career – after going 7-for-8 with 4 RBI versus Georgia State.
Kvistad also went yard during the series, posting her best offensive numbers yet.
“It’s a great feeling,” she said in a phone interview. “I was honored and really happy to see that I got it. Me and my team have been working really hard and preparing for the competition we’re facing in the Sunbelt [Conference]. I was just really excited and honored to get it, makes me want to keep working hard on and off the field.”
It didn’t take long for Kvistad’s impact to be felt. The first-year slugger and her mighty swing have helped the Jaguars to 18 wins so far this season.
“Kam has a tremendous amount of power and her overall mentality at the plate makes her a special hitter,” South Alabama coach Becky Clark said. “I think she is just starting to scratch the surface of what she is ultimately capable of and am looking for her to continue to grow and compete.”
Kvistad pledged her allegiance years ago, verbally committing to South Alabama as early as her sophomore year of high school. The former Columbia star was first drawn to the university by fellow Lake City native Stephanie Pilkington, who played for the Jaguars (2013-2016). Kvistad later visited the campus herself, and came away impressed, accepting the program’s scholarship offer not much longer after her recruiting visit.
She continued to polish her game over the next couple years, establishing herself as one of the most fearsome hitters in the state at Columbia. Kvistad left behind quite the legacy, finishing her high school career with an astounding .412 batting average and 20 homers (according to MaxPreps). The former first-team all-state selection received her first college accolade this week – the first of likely many.
Kvistad, the younger sister of Kayli, an All-American at Florida, has already started carving out her own legacy at South Alabama, on the field and in the classroom.
“It’s been going good,” she said of her classes. “They’re definitely not easy. When you’re staying busy and traveling, it can be hard keeping up with everything but it’s all going good. I enjoy my professors, and my classes are awesome so it’s good, I like them.”
Kvistad is still getting acclimated, like any other newbie on campus. Except she is tasked to do more than the typical freshman, balancing the demands of a student-athlete at the Division I level. It’s no cakewalk, she says.
“The time management side of it is crazy. The first semester it took me a little while but I’m catching up with everything. I’m kind of learning how everybody does it and making adjustments and everything… Just learning where everything is and how the professors want things and [understanding] their criteria. The traveling side of it has been kind of tough this semester… we’re always on the road. It wasn’t too bad though to make the adjustment.”
Kvistad, a pre-business major, is growing accustomed to the lifestyle. It’s not easy to focus on academics and also punish opposing pitchers. Yet she seems to be getting comfortable doing both as she anchors a dynamic freshmen group at South Alabama.
Kvistad currently is second on the team in homers (3) while sitting third in hits (26).
Not too shabby in her first 35 games.
Kvistad’s early triumphs are no surprise for the folks back home.
“We always said she would do great things in her college career,” Columbia coach Trudy Andrews said. “The accolades she’s getting now is just one of many she’ll get in her four years there.”
With about five weeks left in the regular season, the Jaguars have set their sights on a conference title. South Alabama is poised to claim the crown, getting some assistance from a hometown hero. Kvistad believes her squad can go the distance.
“We just got to keep have that mindset of working hard. I feel like we have the mental and physical ability to do it, so I’m excited to see what this team does.”