Chowan Softball: Kayla Robins Leading NCAA D2 in Strikeouts

MURFREESBORO, NC – Every pitch is a new pitch. That's the mantra for Chowan softball's senior pitcher and Mathews, Virginia native, Kayla Robins. The mantra is working wonders for the right-handed hurler as she currently leads all NCAA D2 pitchers in total strikeouts. There are 24 NCAA D2 conferences and more than 300 schools in NCAA D2 ranks. Robins has mowed down an astounding 178 batters through 28 games. Along with leading the nation in total strikeouts, she is ranked 4th in strikeout average per seven innings with 14 strikeouts a game.

There's no doubt that Robins is dialed in on her personal goals on the mound. "It's my last year. I've got to put it all out on the line", stated Robins. "I have gotten more confidant in my abilities and I go out each game and just try to do my best."

Robins is no stranger to the strikeout game. Last season she posted 232 strikeouts and a 20-8 win-loss record. Through two and a half seasons she has tallied 491 career strikeouts. She set the single season strikeout record a year ago with her 232 strikeouts and is poised to break her own single season strikeout record if she continues the pace.

While her personal goals are important, it's the team goals that matter most to Robins. "We are focused on moving forward. The past is the past. We are all team players. Every pitch is a new pitch," said Robins.

There is one elusive goal that Robins and the Hawks are hunting down this season.

The CIAA Championship. A year ago the Hawks battled out of the loser bracket to make it to the title game. Robins threw every inning in the tournament, a total of six games. They fell in a heartbreak of a game 5-4 to CIAA rival, Winston-Salem State University.

"The last two years of finishing second has really motivated Kayla and her attention to detail this season," stated Hawks softball skipper, Brian DeWitt. "For Kayla, it's about finishing the journey. We really focus on not looking beyond today's practice so that we leave the field at our best."

Last year's championship game loss has played a part in Robin's motivation for this year. "Winning the CIAA Championship is our number one goal," said Robins. "We definitely want that CIAA Championship."

Behind every good pitcher is a great defense. A successful pitcher can't pitch without a solid defense and a great catcher. "I can't do what I do without my defense and Coop," Robins said with a smile. She is speaking of sophomore catcher, Haley Cooper. "Coop knows me. She calls all my pitches."

Robins has a variety of pitches that she has used this season to help rack up the numbers. While it appears all of her pitches are working to her advantage, Robins says her go-to pitches are her change up, rise ball, and her curve ball.

"I like my rise ball but my curve ball has been helping me too. Using a change up in the mix always helps."
 
DeWitt agrees with Robins personal pitching assessment. "Her curve ball is breaking sharply right now. She has the ability to make her rise ball jump at different places in the zone. And she becoming more consistent with her change up."

While Robins has experienced success on the mound in previous seasons, she attributes her success this year to being focused on the team and personal goals. The addition of Chowan's strength and conditioning program under the direction of first-year S & C Coach, Alex Jones, has also helped.  "I am stronger this year. Working with Coach Jones has helped me get stronger."

Robins is also a standout student in the classroom as a member of the Chowan University Dean's List. She is majoring in Biology. She is an active member of the Chowan University Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and has participated in various community service projects during her three seasons.

"We will never replace the person and player Kayla is," stated DeWitt. "She is an amazing leader. We can only hope to find someone that closely resembles her."
The Hawks are currently 15-13 and will open CIAA play this weekend in Charlotte at the CIAA Round Up hosted by Johnson C. Smith University.  They are only halfway through the season.

At practice this year, Robins has been working on her mechanics and her stamina. "I want to be prepared to pitch whenever I'm called upon.

With Robins, the best is yet to come. Every pitch is a new pitch.
 

Meredith Long | Athletics | longm@chowan.edu

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