Marissa Guimbarda and Kassidy Krupit have been teammates since before either can remember. They use the recollection of their parents as a reference point.
“I honestly have no clue,” Krupit laughs.
“Since they were 5, when they were on the Dixie Darlings team together,” Krupit’s mother, Liz, adds in from the background.
Both girls roll their eyes ever so slightly.
Since they were 5 years old. Still, as they grew from kids in the yard to ambitious teenagers vying for futures in softball, the two could never really figure each other out—not even until the beginning of this past season.
Krupit, before the season started, worked tirelessly on her hitting at the plate. She humbly admitted in the offseason that it was the area of her game she wanted to work on the most. Guimbarda and Krupit had already spent a season sharing time on the mound, so there wasn’t a sure starter by the time the first varsity game rolled around.
Then the stars aligned in a really big way.
Krupit’s mix of pitching—including a mean changeup—secured her spot on the mound. Guimbarda started showing off incredible power at the plate, but who thought it would last all season long?
Fast forward to the end of the regular season, and the Lady Longhorns were a perfect 15-0 in Region 5-7A play. A few games later Lambert qualified for its first trip to Columbus for the state championship tournament—a goal the team set out for when the school opened in 2009.
“Coach (Youngblood) used to tell us all the time that the team won just three games in its first season, so everything we’ve done to this point was towards that,” Guimbarda said. “To finally get to Columbus in my senior season was really cool and exciting.”
Krupit and Guimbarda had everything to do with that magical season. When the Lady Longhorns needed solid pitching, they never winced—they had Krupit on the mound. When they needed runs, Guimbarda confidently went to the plate and made the magic happen. Her favorite moment? A three-run walk off home run against North Forsyth at home on Sept. 24, helping the team improve to 13-0 in the region.
The team wasn’t the type that would blowout opponents to get to an undefeated mark. Both girls know that their willingness to face pressure situations played a huge role in the team’s success.
“It was a tough year. I know it didn’t look that way,” Krupit said. “Marissa and I both worked really hard and prepared ourselves to face a lot of adversity. We won 13 games this season within two runs, and that’s tough on both me and Marissa, but we always found ways to capitalize in big situations. It happened so fast, but it made us better players.”
Krupit — a junior and Delaware commit – finished with a remarkable 15-2 record and a 0.84 ERA with 83 strikeouts, nine shutouts and 16 complete games. At the plate, she was still more than solid with a .378 average, 10 doubles, and seven home runs.
But Guimbarda’s bat was utterly ridiculous: 18 home runs, seven doubles and a .464 average at the plate. Her 8-1 record on the mound with a 2.50 ERA was just a bonus.
The dynamic duo does not see themselves as interchangeable.
“This season, you couldn’t have taken Kassidy out for me,” Guimbarda said. “That would have been ridiculous. She was that good.”
“Marissa just seemed to always have it in the big moment,” Krupit said. “When you’re pitching you touch the ball every pitch, so there’s so much you can do. When it comes to clutch hitting, you only have so many opportunities and Marissa always took advantage of them. You can’t teach it.”
FCN: What does it mean for you two to win this award?
Guimbarda: It shows that hard work really does pay off. There’s plenty of times when you arrive at practice after a long day, or you’re going from club ball to high school ball and feel burnt out, but you keep pushing. To get an award like this makes it even more special.
Krupit: We actually talked about getting these awards at the beginning of the season. I’d show up to pitch before practices, she’d get in the cage early. There was a lot of time commitment to this team and how we were going to perform in the fall and it really paid off.
FCN: What are the roles of each of you on this team?
Guimbarda: I love to lead by example, not by saying too much. But also I don’t like attitudes. If someone comes back into the dugout and throws something I’m going to say something. If teammates are saying things about someone off in a corner, I’d call them out. It’s all about the team. Luckily we’ve had a great team this year, no drama whatsoever, and it made it easy to lead. But going out to stretch early, to throw early, to lead practices, is really what I’d focus on.
Krupit: I’m more of the player who gets the team pumped up I think. I know I talk a lot, I’m loud, but for example we were playing Milton and were down in the third inning and I remember rallying everyone and putting some energy back into the dugout. We won that game 12-4.
FCN: What helped you get to these award-winning performances this season?
Guimbarda: I’ve learned a lot about how to not just swing at strikes, but know what my pitches are that I like and waiting on those. I was much more patient at the plate this season.
Krupit: Utilizing pitches. I’ve spent so much time the past few seasons with developing my pitches, and I have a lot, but if I don’t know how to utilize them effectively it’s not worth it. I learned a lot in the offseason about knowing when to use what pitch and really attack the plate.