By Kyle Foster, photos courtesy of Don Lex (LuckyDuckImages.com)
Twitter: @NapaKyle @NapaSportsLive
There are times where taking the road less traveled gets you to your ultimate goal. For Kaylie Martindale, a senior at Napa High, that was the case as she signed her NLI to play softball the Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.
“It really is,” an enthusiastic Martindale said of heading to Oregon. “Yes I’m ten hours away from home, but I know with my family nearby like they will always come for me if I need them. And I’m really excited to play softball there — just I love the coaches, they’re great and they’re very understanding about my hearing and they’re very understanding about the player I am and I know that they know that I want to work hard and play for them. I’m really happy.”
“This is something her father and I have dreamed about since she started playing,” Kaylie’s mon Dawnette said of the special day. “It was not something that we ever thought would happen and it was not something that we ever aspired for, we always said if she wanted to quit she could definitely quit and she just kept wanting to play, so when she came to me and said ‘I want to pitch’ I was like ‘oh yeah, she’ll quit that in you know ten minutes — that’ll be short-lived’ and it was like ‘ok thousands of dollars later she’s still pitching’ I’m like ‘ok maybe she’s going to keep at this you know’ and then pretty soon it was like ‘ok she’s really going to keep at this’, so now she’s going to go to school and she’s going to pitch and she’s going to play outfield and she’s going to do it, so it’s like ‘wow’.”
This spring sports season Martindale did not make the Napa High team after playing varsity from her freshman to junior year, but through her multiple years of playing travel softball for Easton Elite out of Petaluma and NorCal Storm out of Concord proved to be the way she got seen by Pacific. Last summer for Easton Elite she carried a .200 batting average and had four RBIs. In the fall for the NorCal Storm she hit .333 to go along with four RBIs. Also last fall she pitched 8 and ⅓ innings and carried a 4.20 ERA.
“Travel ball is just another component for the girls to compete,” former Napa High assistant coach DeAnna Bowers said of the importance of travel softball. “They can get away from their town and go meet other kids and what’s great about travel ball it’s not the competition per say because they face the same competition in high school it’s more they have this huge community of girls around, like you can tell the Batbusters here to support Kaylie, and from what I’ve seen from my own daughter they have all of these friends that are not only in town, but out of town, so their network just gets bigger.”
“It was very important to me in ways that I could never imagine,” Martindale said of what she gained from travel ball. “Just being a part of a team, being able to be a part of a sport that I enjoy, and just being with teammates that have the same determination as me.”
Another big hurdle for Martindale to overcome was being deaf from a very young age.
“Over the years a lot of coaches have had some difficulties with me, but once they learned what they needed to do to accommodate me or do to be able to get my attention or even talk to me on the field it’s been a really good experience,” Martindale said of playing though her hearing problem. “It’s also been a really big learning experience for my teammates and for myself like just being able to learn my environments and stuff.”
Martindale also carried a 3.8 Grade Point Average throughout her time at Napa High. She plans to major in Audiology, which is the diagnosing hearing disorders.
When she gets to Pacific she’ll play pitcher and outfield. Last year the Boxers’ had a record of 22-17 overall and 15-13 in the Northwest Conference. Pacific is a NCAA division III school.
“I’m actually really excited,” Martindale said of joining the Boxers. “I’ve already met a couple of my teammates that I will be attending school with and they’re all really great. They’ve been really understanding and I just love them all. They’re very accommodating and I love them.”
Her best season statistically of her three-year stint playing softball at Napa High was her freshman season of 2015. That year she had a 4.90 ERA, with a 7-11 record, and pitched 105 and ⅔ innings. Offensively that year she carried an average of .429, with three RBIs, and had one stolen base.
“Offensively at the plate she has that tenacity of proving herself every at-bat,” Bowers said of Martindales skills as a softball player. “When she got her chance she was always in there taking swings from her heels or swinging like her hair was on fire.”