While many freshmen take months or years to earn their spot in a Division I lineup, Kiandra Mitchum, a freshman pitcher for the Elon University softball team, started opening day for the Phoenix.
So far this season, Mitchum has made 14 appearances, 12 of which she started on the mound. With a total of 60 innings pitched as of March 16, Mitchum has recorded seven wins, 24 strikeouts, two complete games, one save and a 2.22 earned run average.
With these statistics, Mitchum leads the team in innings pitched, ERA, wins, strikeouts, complete game appearances and games started. Her performance through the opening half of the season has not gone unnoticed by the Colonial Athletic Association.
Mitchum was awarded CAA Pitcher of the Week Feb. 10 for her performance. During that week of play, the freshman earned two wins, throwing 12 innings and recording a 1.75 ERA.
Nearly one month later, Mitchum added her second CAA award March 10 when the conference announced her as the Rookie of the Week. This award was granted because of her three wins in four appearances throughout the week in which she pitched 21.2 innings and posted an ERA of 0.65.
In addition, Mitchum only allowed her opponents a batting average of .188. Though the numbers speak for themselves, Mitchum was modest when speaking of her accomplishments.
“This is definitely a team accomplishment — they have helped me so much,” Mitchum said. “Without them putting hits together or making plays behind me, this would not be possible.”
The numbers Mitchum has put up this season put her alongside the top pitchers in the CAA. Among conference teams, she is second in wins (7), tied for fifth in innings pitched (60), third in saves (1) and tied for second in games started (12).
Head coach Kathy Bocock correlated Mitchum’s success to the team’s focus on improvement.
“Any time a player gets recognized for individual successes, it’s a testament to the hard work the entire team puts in day in and day out,” Bocock said. “They all push each other every day at practice to be better, and as a coach, that’s exactly what we need from our players.”
All of these awards and statistics have been recorded before Mitchum has thrown in a conference game. The Phoenix must wait until March 21, when it travels to College of Charleston to play its first game in the CAA.
“My goals are to focus on making my pitches and to continue to have the support of my teammates,” Mitchum said.
While the majority of her time is spent on the mound, Mitchum has also seen playing time in the batting order, proving her versatility. She has six at bats on the season, and though she awaits her first hit, she has scored one run for the Phoenix.
With the premise she’s already showing in her first year, the possibilities for her next three and a half are limitless.
“Kiandra takes things day by day and pitch by pitch,” Bocock said. “This is why she has been successful for us thus far, so our expectations are for her to continue to do this. We are going to do the same.”