April 19, 2013
Transitioning to a new school is not the easiest thing to do but for softball transfer Kelsey Rodriguez, it has been a rewarding experience thus far.
Rodriguez has already made a name for herself on the field since transferring from the University of the Pacific. Already this season, the junior is hitting a .337 batting average with three homeruns and 17 RBI on the season.
This season, Rodriguez has transitioned to not only a new softball program but also a new conference. She previously played in the Big West Conference. Head coach Mike Candrea is nonetheless satisfied with both her move to Pac-12 competition and her performance on the team.
“When she came in, I knew she was very good in the offense she was in before,” Candrea said. “I was waiting to see how she’d perform but she’s really done a great job. She’s just a kid that has good eye-hand coordination. She’s intelligent so she has a plan when she walks up to bat. I think she’s done a really nice job for us.”
Rodriguez has so far enjoyed the difference of competition.
“It’s definitely different,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a higher caliber of play in the Pac-12 but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I like the higher competition. It’s always fun.”
Besides moving to a new conference, Rodriguez has taken on a new role hitting in the No. 3 spot. Her transition has been a benefit to the team with multiple base hits, 34 as of the last series.
“I just put the bat on the ball,” Rodriguez said on her transition in the batting order. “Coach has been telling us constantly that we need base runners so that’s just the biggest thing, trying to get on as much as possible.”
Rodriguez’s addition to the team has brought something new to the existing Arizona team. Candrea feels as though she adds much to the already talented group.
“It’s not often that you bring a kid in that has the database that she already had,” Candrea said. “She’s played the game at this level for a while so you don’t have to teach those things. You expect her to do things that are necessary to be able to compete that this level. She’s a kid that works very hard at what she does. You add that to the talent then you have a very solid player that is consistent. That’s the one thing that she’s brought to the program, consistency each and every day. “
There were things that Rodriguez had to learn that were not as easy off the field. The most difficult part of the move to Arizona happened from an out-of-body experience.
“I had to learn the rules of the team and learn all of that stuff again,” Rodriguez said. “So I felt like a freshman again in a junior body.”
Like most new students, Rodriguez also found herself trying to find her way around campus.
“It’s definitely different because it’s a lot bigger here than my previous school but it’s been a pretty smooth transition,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of my friends have helped out telling me where stuff is because that’s the biggest thing, finding my classes and buildings.”
Through it all, Rodriguez has enjoyed her transition from Pacific. Not only has Rodriguez entered her junior season as an Arizona Wildcat and made an immediate impact, but she has also begun the final two seasons of her career with her sister by her side.
“I love playing with Courtney,” said Rodriguez. “It’s so much fun. I always have someone there. And she’s hilarious so I like playing with her.”
Rodriguez will be back in action this weekend with the UCLA series. The Wildcats play at 5 p.m. MST Friday and again at 6 p.m. on Saturday.