Chiefs Kaleigh King Leads by Example

Chiefs Kaleigh King Leads by Example

OKEMOS - Okemos senior Kaleigh King shows poise on the diamond and skill beyond her years.

It's hard to believe she started playing competitive fast pitch only four years ago.

"When I first started playing softball, I went to a private school, so it really wasn't a tough thing," King said. "They weren't really competitive about it. It was just for fun. I started playing my 7th and 8th grade year, but when I came here, that's when it all started."

King moved to Okemos from the Grand Rapids area right before here freshman year. She played her freshman season on junior varsity, but was called up to varsity for her sophomore season. King made a huge impact during her junior season as the starting third baseman for the Chiefs.

"Last year, she had a phenomenal season with her bat, " said Head Coach Chrissy Schoonover. "She was over .500, she hit more home runs than we've had in several years, she had a few grand slams.."

This season, King, who is in her second year as a captain, is set to be the Chiefs' starting shortstop.

"I'm kind of nervous, but I'm excited at the same time, because I feel like shortstop will definitely make the leadership role easier for me," she said.

For King, softball doesn't stop when the high school season ends. She spent a major part of the offseason sharpening her skills and preparing for her new position.

"She's done so much work in the offseason, especially with SNAPP at MSU to increase her speed, her lateral movement, her strength," Schoonover said. "She's gone all over the state for different camps and clinics."

SNAPP is the acronym for Spartan Nutrition and Performance Program, a program offered by Michigan State University to enhance training and promote a healthy lifestyle for athletes.

King's dedication to the sport has resulted in great reward. She signed to play softball at Jackson College next year, despite never having been on a travel team during the summer.

"It was a big shock when I was able to play at Jackson," Kind said. "I got a scholarship to Jackson College, because usually college teams don't even look at you if you don't play travel ball."

King says Jackson was the right destination for her because it gives her the opportunity to fine-tune her game before pursuing higher aspirations, hopefully at either the Division I or Division II level.

"I want to be able to play at a higher division, and I want to have that background of playing in college before I do that."

It shouldn't be hard for King to find success in the upcoming season and in her future collegiate career.

Schoonover said her approach to the game is infectious and has a positive influence on her teammates.

"The girls kind of respect her," Schoonover said. "She's played a lot of years on this team, so the girls kind of know she's been around it, she has the experience, but they also know how much work she's put in, so I think the respect that, too. They know how much better she's gotten due to the hard work and they want to do that, too."

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