BRADEN RIVER — For a split second, the stadium is completely silent.
The cheers and words of encouragement are a thing of the past, as Braden River High junior shortstop Kenya Yancy leaves the warm up circle and makes her way into the batter’s box.
In an instant, Yancy has a choice to make.
She can think of all of the reasons why she needs to get a hit to avoid the possibility of another slump at the plate or she can simply stand there, look the pitcher in the eye and think absolutely nothing at all.
It’s when Yancy chooses the latter option that good things tend to happen.
Such was the case this past week when she went 6-for-8 in two games at the plate with a double, a triple, two home runs, seven RBIs and five runs scored.
“If I don’t think about it and just relax, then I do good,” Yancy says. “Sometimes I feel like I need to get hit or the team needs me, and I get upset if I don’t help the team. I put too much pressure on myself.”
So far this season, Yancy is batting .419 with 23 hits, a pair of home runs, 10 RBIs and 14 runs scored. She also has a slugging percentage of .720.
“I feel like I’m watching the ball better,” Yancy says. “I’m just trying to put the ball on the bat and not hit home runs. When I’m at the plate, I feel like I can control the game better. It’s not up to them (the opponent).”
In doing so, Yancy has helped lead the Lady Pirates to a 14-3 record (8-0 Class 7A-District 11).
“We can beat anyone if we’re serious about playing,” Yancy says. “Sometimes, I think we relax and think we’ve got this because we’ve beaten a team before. But if we keep cheering and not think about who we’re playing, then we tend to do better and are more confident.”
On March 21, Yancy hit her second home run in as many games. But it wasn’t until she was rounding second base that she finally heard her teammates calling out to her.
“I don’t know what was going on,” Yancy says. “I didn’t try to hit it out. If I try too much, then I’m usually way to early. I just try and put the ball in play. It doesn’t matter where.”
Yancy began playing softball when she was 5 years old, after her mother encouraged her to play a sport.
Yancy always envisioned running track but ultimately decided to stick with softball, instead.
“I guess I loved softball better,” Yancy says. “I like how you do two different things — running and hitting. You get to incorporate different things into the sport.”
Yancy joined the Braden River varsity softball team as a freshman and helped lead the Lady Pirates to the Class 4A Final Four.
Following her freshman season, Yancy verbally committed to play for the University of South Florida.
A former second baseman, Yancy transitioned over to shortstop when she was 10 years old after her former travel ball team lost its shortstop. She’s been playing the middle infield position ever since.
“I like it, but it’s also annoying,” Yancy says. “You always have to pay attention and stay on your toes.”
But, in the Lady Pirates 13-0 district victory over Charlotte March 21, Yancy found herself viewing the game from another angle — the pitcher’s mound.
Yancy came on in relief of senior ace Courtney Mirabella to secure the final out of the fifth inning.
“I got to try something different,” Yancy says with a smile. “I like it, but I need more practice.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].