CONCORDIA, Kansas — Cloud County Community College sophomore Kayla West has been a central piece to the softball team's success the past two seasons, molding herself from a defense-first catcher into an all-around player and team leader for the T-Birds.
She was rewarded for her hard work last week when the native of Stuttgart, Arkansas signed to return home and play softball at Crowley's Ridge College; a NAIA institution in Paragould, Arkansas.
"It's really close to home and my dad is going to be able to come watch me play, which is really exciting," said West when asked what made Crowley's Ridge the right fit.
West, who began her freshman season as Cloud County's backup catcher, went from collecting 10 hits all of 2016-17 to being a middle-of-the-order threat for the T-Birds this season as a sophomore.
Currently, she is hitting .303 (30-for-99) with 14 extra-base hits, including two home runs. She has also driven in 13 while adding four stolen bases.
Behind the plate, West has continued to thrive as the T-Birds' every day catcher as she has a .966 fielding percentage, up from .948 as a freshman. She also improved her caught stealing percentage from 10 percent to 26.1 percent this spring.
"Kayla has grown dramatically in her leadership and athletically on the field," said Cloud County head coach, Aaron Acree. "She's put in a lot of time and effort to get where she's at today. She's a lot more aggressive offensively and behind the plate."
Acree added he believes West's knowledge and feel for the game is what sets her apart from other catchers, and a big reason why she can succeed in a Pioneers' uniform in the future.
"I use to call the games for our pitchers up until the last three weeks and now I just let her go," Acree said. "She's soaked (calling a game) up like a sponge. Everybody is connected with her on the field. She understands the game and pitch sequences. It's all come together for her and I think Crowley's Ridge can get even more out of her. They're getting a great player."