Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kayla English Steps Into Justin's World

Fans of the Atlantic Ten and the Dayton Flyers will be no strangers to Kayla English's name; the righty hurler was an all-conference selection all four seasons of her career and took home the Pitcher of the Year award her senior campaign of 2015.

Leading her team's pitching staff from her freshman season onward, English was named the conference's Rookie of the Year after finding her name atop nearly every pitching statistical category for her team.

In 2014, her junior campaign, she threw the first Flyers no-hitter in more than ten years. She followed that up in 2015 by throwing the first-ever perfect game in the program's history, sending the Rhode Island Rams home with their bats between their legs.

She holds the all-time strikeout mark at UD, as well as a top-five spot in the record books in innings pitches; victories from the circle; and opponent's batting average.

Having begun her career as a college coach straight out of school herself, English now finds herself on the staff at Midwestern State, a Division II school in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Justin’s World: How did you get started playing softball?
Kayla English: When I was about six or seven years old, I told my dad that I wanted to try out softball as well as soccer. My dad was not the biggest soccer fan in the world, so after a while he made me decide which sport I wanted to stick with, and I chose softball. BEST CHOICE EVER!

Justin’s World: Who was the toughest opponent, either individual or team, that you faced?
English: Mentally, the toughest opponent I played was Tennessee. They were “the team” when I was growing up. I always loved watching the girls play and it was great to see how much talent they had. I was able to face them my senior year at UD; it was very nerve-wracking to be pitching against some of the best hitters in the country.

Justin’s World: While the press coverage and notoriety may not be as easily-gained or as constant, tell me some of the advantages and your favorite parts of playing in the A10.
English: Playing in the A10 was incredible for me. I was able to travel all across the Midwest and what I call the North! Some of those places were unbearably cold for a Texas girl. I think the coolest thing about the A10 was that every sport and every team did everything they could to show the world that we are a good conference and we should be watched. It definitely showed when we got news that, in the future, the softball conference tournament would be played on television, along with other sports getting more TV time. 

Justin’s World: Talk about the legacy that you hope you’ve left on the UD program and the Atlantic 10 conference as a whole. What is the one thing you hope players that come into the Flyers program five or ten years down the road remember or are told about Kayla English?
English: I hope that when girls come through the UD program, they understand that working hard, giving 110% effort, and having a good attitude about things will get you pretty far in the softball world. Each year is a learning process and if you are willing to let your guard down and trust your coaches, they will make you better. I hope that when people think of Kayla English in the future, they remember that records can be broken with hard work and dedication.

Justin’s World: What made a Texas girl decide that Dayton was the place she wanted to go to school & play ball?
English: I decided to go to Dayton because I absolutely loved the campus and the atmosphere that surrounded it. Coach Laplaca assured me that this program was up and coming and that I could make it even better. A key thing for me was that I would get a fair shot at playing time. I wanted to be the starter and I wanted to play every single inning that I could. She said she would give me the opportunity to start, but that I had to prove myself. It really did not hit me how far away from home I was until the first month and half that I was there. It was a little overwhelming for a while.

Justin’s World: Is there one particular statistic or award that you are most proud of? Why?
English: Individually, I am really proud of the Pitcher of the Year award that I received my senior year. I felt as though it was a long time coming, and I had worked so hard for it. I am also very proud of our team’s accomplishment as regular season champions. All of our hard work as individuals and as a team really showed throughout the 2015 season.  

Justin’s World: Talk to me about beginning your coaching career; was being in the coaching box and leading your own players always your post-playing dream and goal?
English: I have always loved helping girls with their pitching and hitting. I decided to help with some select teams from the organization I played with, and I also started doing private lessons. I really started thinking about college coaching my senior year of college and thought it would be a great opportunity for me to share all of the experiences I had as a player.

Justin’s World: What are your plans for the future? Is being a head coach something you’d like to try your hand at someday?
English: I definitely want to stay coaching for as long as possible. In the future, I could see myself being a head coach somewhere.

Justin’s World: Outside of UD Softball Stadium, what is/was your favorite stadium to play in?
English: One of the cooler stadiums I played in was at UC Santa Barbra. I really enjoyed playing in California where my mom’s side of the family could watch me play. It didn’t hurt that the beach was close by. Our team had a lot of fun there and we played some good competition.  

Justin’s World: Let’s end with my all-time favorite question. Say you were stranded on a deserted island for an undetermined period of time, but you can take three things with you. No boats or phones; what do you take?

English: If I were stranded on a deserted island, I would take my best friend, so I always had someone to hang out with, beer, and food. 

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