When Lambert alum Kassidy Krupit took the field for the USA U-19 National team at Georgia State’s Robert E. Heck Softball Complex in Decatur on June 30, the game was already all but over.
Team USA held a commanding lead over the Georgia Impact, a team with some of the state’s best talent. Krupit took over at first base in the fifth inning and stayed there until the game’s conclusion. By the seventh, it was an 8-0 game that ultimately didn’t matter, but as Krupit stood on the bag under the scorching sun, she still found a small way to make it interesting.
During one of the Impact’s final plate appearances, a batter fouled a pitch off towards the center of the first base line. Krupit and Team USA’s catcher each rushed for the ball, and when Krupit scooped it up first, she let out a playful “Ha!” She was enjoying every competitive moment, even the little ones.
“She has self-belief,” Team USA and Washington softball head coach Heather Tarr said. “That's something that coaches can't teach a player. She believes in herself and we respect that. I think that's awesome, and I think that's one of the biggest qualities she brings to her team.”
That competitiveness and drive has been evident over Krupit’s entire stint with the national team, an opportunity that has taken her all over the world and has taught her so much. Next spring, she’ll have the opportunity to apply the lessons she’s learned to her collegiate career, which hasn’t taken a straightforward path so far.
“Playing for (Team) USA is just a dream for anybody,” Krupit said. “For me to be in a program like this is the best thing that could ever happen. Honestly, any way I can compete on this team, I'll go. It's just a dream to be out there on the field representing this country.”
Coming out of her successful career at Lambert, Krupit was initially committed to Delaware, but after a coaching change in that program changed her mind, she ultimately ended up playing her freshman season at Baylor. She did a little bit of everything while with the Bears: At the plate, she hit .236 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs over 49 games started. She was a pitcher as well, but she struggled from the circle, with an 8.44 ERA over 32 innings pitched.
She began to have second thoughts about her decision to go to Texas, though, and last month, she announced that she would be transferring to South Carolina, citing her desire to be closer to home and play for an SEC school, which had been a dream of hers. Still, the decision to leave Baylor after just one season wasn’t an easy one, especially after spurning Delaware before.
“It's always tough leaving a school, and a great school like Baylor,” Krupit said. “But I had to do what was best for me, and what was best for me was to go (into) the SEC, closer to home and at a great institution like South Carolina. I finally found the right place for me. I've got my place now and I made the best decision of my life (by transferring) to South Carolina.”
Since her freshman season ended, Krupit has been focused more on being an infielder. On the national team, she’s played mostly third and second base, and has begun to get time at first, which is helpful with the Gamecocks wanting her to be ready to play anywhere. The day before the national team’s showcase in Decatur, Krupit was busy working on her footwork with Tarr, and during the game, the national championship-winning coach didn’t hesitate to give her some guidance from the dugout situated just feet away.
Krupit had a few plate appearances against the Impact, and in the second game of the showcase against the Birmingham Bolts, but she didn’t start either game. That’s not a reflection of her effort or her skillset, but rather the strength of the team around her.
“Everybody's here to play a role,” Tarr said. “When they start, that's their role. When they come off the bench, that's their role. I think the hard part for everybody, parents included sometimes, is that they don't realize that doesn’t mean you're not doing the right things if you're not playing every day or you're not starting every day. So for her, she's going to be able to be a big contributor to this team no matter when she's in the game or how she's in the game.”
In the last month, Krupit and the rest of Team USA have had the chance to help spread the sport worldwide, taking trips to Paris and Dublin to play. Krupit recorded a hit in games against Ireland and France, which Team USA won 7-0 and 13-0, respectively. She recognizes the opportunity she’s been given, and before she gets the chance to continue her college career, she’s continuing to take it all in.
“It means everything,” Krupit said. “Just the experience is (one) that not many people can go through. It's just amazing because I've learned a tremendous amount of things that I never even knew. The experience with these girls has been just outstanding.”