MURFREESBORO – Kirstyn Cuccia recalls the first game of the season.
Blackman lost 22-4 to Stewarts Creek. And Cuccia, the lone senior on the Lady Blaze team, was admittedly mad.
It didn’t take her long to realize she would have to change her outlook as the leader on the field for a young team trying to compete in an ultra-competitive District 7-AAA.
“I really was frustrated,” Cuccia said. “I got more mad than anything. But I saw that didn’t help.
“The next game against La Vergne I saw my attitude helped everyone else up, and we came back to beat them. That showed me my attitude reflects on everyone else.”
Cuccia, an MTSU signee, has been the biggest bright spot for a three-win team with its third coach in as many seasons.
She enters the District 7-AAA tournament with a .415 batting average. She has two home runs — including a grand slam — and has seven doubles, three triples and 14 RBIs.
Blackman, the seventh seed in the district tournament, plays second-seed Siegel (27-3) at 8 p.m. today at Smyrna High.
Her stats, though, have come with minimal at bats this season. Several games Cuccia has gotten just two at bats due to the team being run-ruled.
“She is sometimes getting two, maybe three at bats,” Blackman first-year coach Kelsey Ferguson said. “For her and the production we get is coming from Kirstyn. We really don’t have at this point, strong hitters to really be bringing in RBIs. She has 14 for us.
“That’s probably close to a third or more of the total team RBIs for us.”
Cuccia’s power at the plate is misleading. Her small frame gives her the appearance of a slap hitter, looking for infield singles.
“A lot of teams that we play, other than the teams in our district, think I’m a slap hitter because of my size,” Cuccia said. “The first two at bats they think I’m going to slap or something.”
Cuccia said she’s worked at being selective in the batters box. She’s not swinging just for hits. She’s looking for the pitch she can drive.
“She’s definitely more discipline at the plate,” Ferguson said. “When you can be disciplined at the plate, it puts you in better counts. If you have it 3-1 or 2-1, you are going to get a better pitch to hit.
“I think that really drives a batting average up.”
Cuccia has also played virtually every position on the field — except pitcher. And she tried that before quickly realizing that wasn’t the spot for her. She’s caught in the past for Blackman, but has played shortstop this season. She’s likely an outfielder at MTSU next season.
“Kirstyn can hit,” Ferguson said. “That’s the thing that’s going to to help her. If you can hit and play any position, you are going to find a spot.”
Contact Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kreager.