SB : After switch to catcher, Kohl assumes commanding on-field role for Syracuse
Lacey Kohl was the calming presence Stacy Kuwik needed.
Kuwik was beginning to unravel in the fifth inning of the second game of a Syracuse-Rutgers doubleheader on Saturday. The junior hurler was losing her command and struggling to find the strike zone.
That’s when Kohl stepped in and got her back on track.
‘For (Kohl) to kind of be there for her and just kind of say ‘Hey, listen, fight through the rain, come on let’s go, do your thing,” SU head coach Leigh Ross said. ‘I think it’s easy for a pitcher to kind of lose it for a second, and for their catcher to bring her back out of it is good.’
And that’s what Ross and the pitching staff has come to expect from Kohl, the Orange’s starting catcher. When a pitcher is in need, a reassuring Kohl is always there to lead her out of her troubles. She’s one of the most vocal players and a natural leader for a team which won 14 of its last 16 games.
SU senior pitcher Jenna Caira, who threw a no-hitter this past weekend with Kohl as her catcher, said it’s important for at least one part of the battery to never panic.
‘Just making sure if one thing doesn’t really go her way, she goes into the next play calm and she doesn’t freak out,’ Caira said, ‘because with the battery, if the pitcher and the catcher are both uneasy, then that’s going to portray to other parts of the field as well.’
As a former infielder, Kohl understands that effect.
She switched positions from infielder to catcher at the start of her sophomore year for a chance to play everyday. The move also gave her a broader perspective during each game and a new opportunity to be a leader.
‘Being able to see the whole field, not from just one certain angle, I’m able to see everything as it happens and how it unfolds,’ Kohl said. ‘I really like that position back there. I have the voice for it. I’m loud.’
As a senior, Kohl said she can relate to everyone on the team. She’s gone through the joy of a big win and the devastation of a crushing loss.
Freshmen can look up to her, and other upperclassmen are easily able to relate to her. Over the past three years, Kohl has played in 154 of SU’s 167 games. And she’s started 142 of them.
‘Lacey’s definitely a vocal leader, leader by example,’ Ross said. ‘She’s definitely a leader.’
The way she handles a pitching staff has been almost seamless. Even from the stands, she can be heard screaming out to her pitcher that it’s just the two of them having a catch.
Caira said Kohl does a good job of reading a pitcher. If she sees poor body language from Caira or sees pitches that aren’t as sharp, that’s an indication for Kohl to go out and talk with Caira about how to settle down.
‘I think she does a good job of making sure everyone’s calm, and she understands what’s going on and reads everybody to make sure everyone is settled,’ Caira said, ‘that when pressure situations occur that everyone is calm and can handle what’s happening.’
Ross said overall, Kohl does a great job of leading by example. The way she carries herself on the field motivates players on and off the diamond. In practice, Kohl always tries to be a player teammates can turn to.
And while catching certainly forced her into becoming a leader for the Orange, it’s a characteristic Kohl has always had.
‘Because I am always talking, I guess it’s one of those things where either you have it or you don’t,’ Kohl said. ‘You’re either talkative and motivate people or you don’t. Luckily, I guess I kind of have that.’
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