By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Kinsey McNaught had a very different vision for her college career.
“I wanted a big, huge school far away from home,” said McNaught, a McNary High School senior and softball player.
Then the reasons to stay closer to home started piling up.
It started when coaches at Spokane’s Whitworth University asked to meet her while they were out scouting other talent in Portland.
“They were awesome people. They asked me to come up for a visit. I got to see the facilities and talk with some of the people and that hooked me even more. My family loved it, too. The next day, the coach invited my family to their home for a meal and that was the last straw. I knew I had to go there,” said McNaught.
McNaught signed a letter of intent to play for the Pirates at a ceremony Friday, Jan. 15, at McNary.
The last year has been a wild ride for McNaught. She was actually considering giving up softball because she couldn’t find a college that offered the academics that would lead to a career as a oncologist alongside a strong softball program.
Despite her doubts, she stuck with the sport and achieved new heights. In 2015, she hit .500, had a .540 on-base percentage, scored 40 runs and stole 17 bases. The totality of her output landed her on the first team all-Greater Valley Conference and the first team all-state.
“Kinsey is a stellar young lady and being able to watch her grow as a person and a softball player has been a blessing for me,” said Kevin Wise, McNary head coach.
McNaught is also a rare breed on the field, a slapper, which is a batter that moves up on the ball when she is hitting to “slap” it into a hole in the infield then beat the throw to first base.
“It takes a lot of skill and the ability to read defenses and pitchers. On top of that, Kinsey is probably the best center fielder in the state right now,” Wise said.
The Pirates won their conference the past two years, but McNaught has her sights on bigger goals.
“My ultimate goal is to help them get to a national championship, even as a freshman,” she said.