Softball: Junior’s deception fools Ivy League hitters
“It only took a few weeks to realize that I loved the game for its competitiveness and sense of team,” Kuhn said.
After achieving success in high school and travel softball, Kuhn stayed close to home for college, taking her skills one hour west to Princeton University.
“When I visited Princeton for the first time I knew that this was where I wanted to be,” Kuhn said. “The academic opportunities are amazing, the campus is gorgeous, and I felt like I fit in with the girls on the team. What made it even more special was that it’s close to home.”
Now a junior, Kuhn will lead the Tigers into the final stretch of their Ivy League season with a team-best 3.69 ERA and 102.1 innings pitched. Kuhn has improved tremendously since last season, which she attributed to the movement and deception she puts on her pitches.
“I’ve focused on tightening up my spins so that I can create as much movement and deception as possible,” Kuhn said. “I don’t overpower hitters, so my goal is to get them to mis-hit a ball to my defense or to swing at a ball that is moving out of the strike zone. I often work east to west, relying the most on my screwball and curveball.”
Though she is a finesse pitcher, Kuhn has been overpowering this season, as hitters are only managing a .255 batting average against her and 27 batters have struck out looking. She has compiled 98 strikeouts so far, the third-highest total in the Ivy League.
Her success as a pitcher dates back to her high school softball days, when she had a 21-4 record with a 0.68 ERA and 254 strikeouts in her senior season and led her team to the 2009 New Jersey state championship. For Kuhn, however, the most memorable part of that season was not winning the title - rather, the fact that her sister was on the field with her made it an experience she will never forget.
Kuhn’s sister, Julia, started playing softball a few years before Liza and is now a freshman playing for Northwestern.
“[I had] the opportunity to play with my sister as my teammate,” Kuhn said. “We played together for two years during high school and for a couple of travel ball seasons. We won the New Jersey state championship my senior year of high school, which was extra special because she was on the field with me.”
Kuhn threw two-and-a-third innings in the second game of Princeton’s doubleheader on Wednesday, allowing one run, but Princeton dropped both contests at Lehigh, 3-1 and 2-0.
Despite her individual accomplishments, Kuhn has a team-first mentality that has earned the respect of her teammates. In fact, she was named a captain of the softball team as a junior, and her role as a leader extends past her solid performances on the field.
“As one of four pitchers, my goal is to do whatever I need to in order to help the team succeed,” Kuhn said. “Whether that’s starting a game, closing a game, creating positive energy or giving teammates advice and support, my role is to give my team every possible opportunity to succeed.”
Softball has been an irreplaceable asset to Kuhn as a third-year Tiger.
“I can’t imagine Princeton without softball,” Kuhn said. “A huge part of my Princeton experience comes from the friends that I have made through softball and the challenges that we have overcome.”
Nonetheless, there is one thing missing that would make her Princeton experience complete.
“My goal for both the rest of the season and my career is to give my team the opportunity to win an Ivy League championship,” Kuhn said. “Whether that is in the pitching circle or behind the scenes helping other teammates, my goal is to do whatever I need to in order to be successful.”
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