Kaitlyn Constantino Named PHSSA First Team All-State Pitcher (07/08/19)
(Photos courtesy of Kim Constantino) Kait delivering a pitch in the District Nine Class-AA Semifinal win against A-C Valley.
Clarion Area junior pitching ace Kaitlyn (Kait) Constantino capped of a great season by being selected to the Pennsylvania High School Softball Association’s All-State Team. Kait was named to the Class-A First Team, one of three pitchers named to the First Team. The others were Hailey Sweeney from Bristol and Jade Renner from West Greene, who Kait faced in the quarterfinals of the PIAA State Championships.
This is the second year in a row that Kait has been named All-State. She was named to the Second Team, as a sophomore, in 2019, along with her sister Alexis Second Team 3rd base as a sophomore, in 2018, along with her sister Alexis, who was named First Team shortstop. This was probably the first time siblings were named All-State in same sport in the same season in Clarion Area history.
Kait’s stats reflect that she was absolutely worthy of the First Team selection, as he excelled offensively and defensively.
While Kait was in the circle, the Lady Cats were 17-6. She worked 144 innings, with a 1.60 earned run average, striking out 245 batters (11.9 per game, while issuing only thirty-nine walks.
On offense, Kait had 42 hits in 83 at bats, for a .508 batting average and a .558 on base percentage. She had 7 doubles and 4 triples. She scored 28 runs, drove in 10 runs, drew 9 walks and stole twelve bases.
Among the awards Kait garnered this past softball season were: D9Sports.com Softball Softball Pitcher of the Year; Tri-County Sunday/Courier Express All-Star Team Second Team pitcher; All-Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference (KSAC) First Team pitcher.
Kait also excelled in two other sports this school year, basketball and volleyball. In basketball she was named First Team All-KSAC and Second Team Tri-County Sunday/Courier Express All-Star. She was named Second Team All-KSAC in Volleyball.
Kait’s parents Dave and Kim Constantino said, “As Kaitlyn’s parents, we are obviously very happy and proud of her All- State First Team selection as a pitcher.”
Kait started pitching at an early age. Her folks said, “Kait used to watch her big sister, Alexis, practice pitching in Minor League. She’d go with Alexis to pitching lessons with Ed Winger (pitching instructor from Franklin) and fell in love with pitching at the age of eight. She would want to emulate anything Ed was showing Alexis. She would always ask her dad to go out and practice pitching.”
Her hard work continued. Her parents said, “As the years went on, she worked both on and off season soaking in as much as she could to better herself as a pitcher. She went to clinics, pitching lessons, and even had her dad drive her to Houghton College on a very snowy day to meet her pitching idol, Jennie Finch (pitcher for 2001 Women’s College World Series Champion Arizona Wildcats, NFCA All-American, Team USA 2014 Gold Medal and 2018 Silver Medal in the Olympics, Chicago Bandits National Pro Fastpitch, USA Softball Hall of Fame, ESPN commentator).
“She has always had an amazing work ethic, especially in the off season. When Ed Winger told her about a wonderful upper core workout using the Jennie Finch Windmill (pitching, throwing and shoulder exerciser), she wanted one for Christmas. She had a workout program that she diligently followed during the off-season on that windmill.”
Kait shared, “I am so honored to be selected as First Team All-State Pitcher! All the credit goes to God, and the abilities He has given me. My faith is the reason why I’m the player I am today. During every game, I always remind myself that God is in control and to trust in Him. Whenever I trust in God, I feel endless joy while I’m pitching. I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).”
She had praise for her Clarion Area coaches, “I want to thank all my coaches for their endless support and help they have provided for me these past few years! Coach Dan (Shofestall) has always supported me throughout my entire career, and always pushed me to be the best. His coaching was a huge reason why we went as far as we did this year!
“Coach John (Stroup) was my pitching coach for high school and called my pitches for this season. I always knew that John called the right pitches for each batter.
“Coach Randy (Reynolds) and Coach Matt (Best) helped me progress in my hitting. They provided new techniques for me to try in order to be a better hitter this year.”
Kait also had praise for pitching instructor Ed Winger. “I also want to thank my pitching coach, Ed Winger. I would not be the pitcher I am today without him. Ed continues to work with me so that I can keep improving each day.”
Kait’s family has been very important in her journey. “I want to thank my family for their constant support in everything I do. My dad has been my catcher since I was eight, and it has had such a big influence in my pitching. Any time I wanted to pitch, my dad would take me out in the back yard and practice. My mom has always supported me since the beginning of my softball career. Also, I want to thank her for capturing every season with her astounding photography skills. (Kim Constantino is the Lady Cats’ team photographer.)
“My sister, Alexis, has been so supportive of me in every sport and was a great role model for me. Alexis was also the greatest teammate I have ever played with.”
Her teammates have been very important. Kait said, “Finally, I would like to thank my teammates for consistently having my back.”
Kait sees the vast importance of having a dependable battery mate. “I want to thank my catcher, Jordan Best. Jordy is by far, the best catcher I have ever played with. Every game I put all my trust in Jordy and she has never let me down. Jordy is a phenomenal player and I can’t wait to have her catch for me again next year!”
And the other eight girls behind her. “I also want to thank the defense behind me. Our fielding this year was spectacular and the fielders were an important key to our defense this year.”
Kait added, “I would also like to thank all of the local media for all of the support they have given to Clarion!”
Clarion Area Manager Dan Shofestall shared, “I was so pleased to see Kaitlyn being selected as a First Team All-State pitcher. She had an amazing year. Her achievement and recognition, as one of the best pitchers in the state of Pennsylvania, is definitely well deserved.
As long as I’ve known Kaitlyn, she has had a great hunger and desire to be the best she can be. The amount of time and effort she has put into the craft of pitching, from the days she was a youngster until present day, are countless. She is a hard worker, who expects a lot from herself every time steps inside the pitching circle. When she toes the pitching rubber and gets set to deliver her next pitch, you always know you are going to get her very best both physically and mentally. As she showed her pitching toughness throughout this year our team toughness grew right alongside her.”
As is always the case, teammates and coaches share in big honors. Coach Shofestall mentioned, “I’ve always felt that when one of our players is honored, as Kaitlyn has been this year, that it is also a team honor and a reflection of our whole team. I think Kaitlyn would be the first to say she couldn’t have done it without her teammates and others.
“I also feel that a good part of Kaitlyn’s success this year was due in part to the healthy relationship that was established between Kaitlyn, her catcher Jordan Best and pitching coach John Stroup. The trio formed a trusting relationship among themselves that served everyone well. When there is a great trust between team members and coaches, it can be such a powerful force.”
“I’m sure that Kaitlyn’s good year at the plate also played a part in her state selection. As in her pitching, she also works very hard at the hitting part of the game with hitting coach Randy Reynolds. She was our leadoff hitter and did a fantastic job.”
Coach Shofestall concluded by saying, “I congratulate Kaitlyn on the great season that she had and for being selected as the 2019 Pennsylvania First Team All State Pitcher. She had a season to remember.”
Kait’s parents shared how her faith comes in to play, saying, “Softball has been a wonderful tool in allowing her to do something she loves while developing her into a strong, well-rounded young lady. She has always given God the thanks for the talents she has been given. Being a pitcher can be an up and down battle of emotions and it has taught her to give thanks to God through it all.”
They mentioned their gratitude to those who have been instrumental in Kait’s journey, “We are extremely grateful for all of the people who have had a significant role in her life, from family and friends, to all of her coaches: especially Coaches Dan, Randy, John, and Matt, as well as her pitching coaches, Ed Winger and John Stroup.
“Ed has so much knowledge about pitching and has graciously shared his love of the game with Kait over the years. John Stroup and Kait have developed into a great team this year. With every pitch that was thrown, John and Kait were very much in sync with one another.
“Kait has been blessed to not only play with some great young ladies on the Clarion Softball team, but also with a wonderful group of girls on the Tri-City Thunder team. “
Kait’s hitting instructor Coach Winger, Franklin High School and Tri-City Thunder Coach, was very impressed with her and older sister Alexis when he first started working with them. “I first met Kaitlyn when she and her sister, Alexis, came to a pitching clinic that I instructed in Franklin when Kait was 8 years old. The two of them would take turns throwing pitches to Dad, Dave.
“I could tell right away that both were very intent at doing well and enjoyed the challenge of improving skills. Kait couldn’t wait until it was her turn and she would pitch as soon as she had the ball in her hand! It took a while to slow her down between pitches, but she was always attentive and picked up instruction very well.
“When I realized that her intensity was more than a passing phase, we progressed to actual lessons aimed at building leverage for speed and aspects of technique. I have enjoyed watching her development through her years playing for Tri-City Thunder teams and as a pitching coach. Her focus and work ethic rarely wavered. She has been an amazing student of her craft and has developed her skill by incorporating information and instruction from a number of people that would benefit her improvement.”
Coach Winger continued, “Her parents, Kim and Dave, have provided what I consider a proper support for Kait, stressing balance and the importance of faith, family, academics and consideration for others. They have permitted her to pursue excellence in three high school sports, which provides her with great cross training for physical development.
“She has developed into a fine athlete and a fine young lady of whom any parents, teachers, coaches and friends would be proud! She has always been humble concerning her accomplishments, simply responding, “Thank you!” when complimented by others. She possesses a rare ability of any successful person to enjoy the process, the hard work and the challenge of competition over the accolades that come from that success.
“I truly value the years that I have known Kaitlyn and the time I have been able to spend with her through the wonderful sport of fastpitch softball!”
Clarion Assistant Coaches John Stroup and Randy Reynolds shared their thoughts on Kait.
About Kait’s work in the circle, Coach Stroup said, ‘It was fun to watch Kait this year. She really came into her own as a pitcher with more than a fastball. She learned to command the strike zone. She already had a good change up, but her riseball became her go to pitch.
“Watching Kait come into the dugout after watching a batter chase a pitch was Worth the price of admission.”
And as for Kait’s prowess at the plate, Coach Reynolds shared, “Kait was awesome at the plate this year. She has such a good eye, and she can get a bat on just about anything.
“But over the year, she became more focused, looking for pitches to drive. That was especially true with the game on the line. With runners in scoring position, she batted 160 points higher than her overall batting average.
“I knew Kaitlyn was going to be good this year, but I was amazed by the jump she made.”
“Kait’s success this year had a lot to do with her work ethic and what she did in the off-season to prepare for the season.
“I know already this summer she is just as determined to work as hard this off-season to work harder to improve for next year.”
Dave and Kim closed by saying, “We are thankful for all of the people who have blessed her along her journey and look forward to what the future holds for her.”
Others from District Nine and District Ten named to the PHSSA 2019 All-State Team include:
In Class-A: from DuBois Central Catholic: Mia Meholick – First Team catcher, Avery Sickery – First Team 3rd base, Carly Semancic – First Team outfield, Ashley Wruble – First Team utility and Shayleigh Gluvas – Second Team Shortstop; from Elk Catholic Catholic: Sandy Van Alstine – Second Team outfield.
In Class-AA: from Curwensville: Joslynne Freyer – First Team designated hitter and Abby Pentz – Second Team Shortstop; From Saegertown: Kaitlyn Young – First Team pitcher, Carlie Schlosser – First Team utility, Courtney Hess – Second Team first 1st base.
In Class-AAA: from Clearfield – Emma Hipps Second Team designated hitter
In Class-AAAA: from Warren: Ellie Lobdell – First Team pitcher, Kiersten Hoffman – First Team 3rd base and Second Team catcher, Gracie Wood – Second Team outfield.
Class-AAAAA: from DuBois: Lauren Walker – Second Team outfield.
(CONGRATULATIONS TO KAIT, HER PARENTS COACHES, TEAMMATES!!!! AND CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE OTHER YOUNG LADIES AROUND DISTRICT NINE NAMED TO THIS YEAR’S ALL-STATE TEAM!!!!)
(Thank you to all who contributed photos, stats and quotes for this article!!!!)