Bouncing back with the Braves

By Allen Worrell Editor

December 19, 2013

Three years removed from a devastating leg injury, Carroll County senior Kaitlin Farmer continues her impressive ascent back into the softball world.

Playing for the Catawba Valley Storm 18 & Under High School showcase travel softball team in August of 2010, Farmer was playing in a tournament at Winthrop University when she slid into home plate on a suicide squeeze to take the lead when she broke her leg. After two surgeries and months of rehab, Farmer had to overcome many obstacles, one of the biggest of which was her desire to get back on the softball field.

Farmer elected not to play softball her sophomore season – it was simply too soon after her injury. But thanks to positive encouragement from Carroll County junior varsity softball coach Cindy Edwards and varsity softball coach Rick Nester, Farmer was invited back to the field. Starting back on the varsity team last season as a junior, Farmer picked up where she left off as a freshman with a consistent pace of gaining confidence, both mentally and physically. Soon, she made her way back into the starting rotation and became a major contributor in the Cavaliers’ postseason run to the Region IV, Division IV semifinals.

Looking forward to her senior season, she continues to make strides and stay injury free.

This summer, Farmer joined the Piedmont Braves 18 & Under High School showcase travel softball team. Farmer quickly worked her way into a starting rotation on a team with many girls that have been together for as many as 10 years. By the end of the summer, she helped the Braves finish the season with 10 consecutive wins, including back-to-back tournament championships. Piedmont outscored its opponents 63-23 in the 10-game winning streak.

The Braves’ softball organization is based out of Statesville, North Carolina, with players also representing areas of Lake Norman, Kings Mountain, and Charlotte. The lone Virginia player on the squad, Farmer tried out for the Braves in late July, and she has played in 32 games for Piedmont, starting at short stop. Hitting in the top 5 of the batting order, she has a running total of 27 hits and 19 RBIs, with a whopping .409 batting average and a .485 slugging percentage.

“Kaitlin is just a great kid with a good head on her shoulders. She is a heck of ball player,” said Rodney Robertson, coach of the Piedmont Braves. “Her stats speak for themselves.”

Robertson said the Piedmont Braves play at an extremely high level of competition, with many of the players going on to play Division I college softball. He said Farmer’s father, Sidney, came to him at the start of the summer hoping to find a higher level travel ball team for Kaitlin to play on.

“So they drove the hour down here to come to practice and play. The caliber of teams that we play is really good, and we went 38-14 for the year,” Robertson said. “He told me about the injury and he was worried about her speed, but she is quick as lightning to be as stout of a girl as she is. She is quick as lightning.”

Robertson said it was a bit of a struggle at first for Farmer as she was joining a team of girls that had been playing together for 10 years. He said Farmer always had her game face on. Once Robertson told her to take that off and communicate with the rest of the kids, Farmer started having a good time and blossomed in a hurry.

“She took over shortstop after two or three times and I told her, ‘That is your position.’ It really said something about her for her to come in and be able to start so quickly,” Robertson said. “She had to have a good skillset. Kaitlin came in and she was a real asset to the team. By the end of the season, we were on a 10-game winning streak, and that is a difficult thing to do in travel ball.”

Robertson said the Piedmont Braves are a little bit like a minor league system in that he moves girls up from the 14 & Under team when someone is out or can’t play for the 18 & Under team. Currently there are more than 70 kids in the organization. Having seen Farmer’s ability and quick cohesion with the team, he is hopeful more girls from this area will be interested in the Piedmont Braves.

“Kaitlin is a great kid and a really good softball player,” Robertson said. “We’d love to have more girls like her. We have girls on our team as far north as Virginia and as far south as Gastonia.”