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The first glimpse of glory

Saugus graduate gets first opportunity at ultimate goal — a national title

Posted: June 1, 2009 10:18 p.m.
Updated: June 2, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Arizona sophomore second baseman Victoria Kemp prepares for the pitch against Yavapai on Sept. 27.

 
It was almost indescribable.

On Thursday at 8 p.m. in Oklahoma City, Okla., Saugus graduate and University of Arizona sophomore second baseman Victoria Kemp took the field for the Wildcats against the Florida Gators to begin the 2009 Women's College World Series.

"To step on that field and see thousands of people around you was really exciting," Kemp says, searching for the best words to describe the experience. "I remember being young and watching it on TV."

To don the Arizona uniform, means to continue the tradition of such greats as Jennie Finch, Alicia Hollowell, Lovieanne Jung and Caitlin Lowe, all current members of the USA Softball team.

It also means working with eight-time national champion and USA Softball head coach Mike Candrea.

"He teaches you how to be successful in life," Kemp says. "He is really fun to be around and a really good coach."

According to Kemp, one of her primary goals when choosing Arizona was to win a national championship.

"Every year they are always up there," said Saugus head coach Julie Watson, who coached Kemp as a senior with the Centurions. "They always have a shot. They bring in a lot of talent. It is a great program. She made the right choice and can definitely reach that goal."

This year, she got her first glimpse of national championship caliber experience.

Kemp went 0-for-2 Thursday with a walk as Arizona lost 3-0 to Florida. Arizona managed only two hits in the game.

Two days later, the Wildcats faced elimination.

"You definitely just have to stay relaxed and trust in yourself," Kemp says of the pressure of playing at such a high level. "It was a big adjustment. You just have to keep working and learn how to slow the game down."

But again, Kemp and her team were up against a stellar pitching performance and the 2009 dream came to a end with a 14-0 loss to Alabama on Saturday.

Regardless, Kemp says this season was a perfect springboard for the future.

And if there is one thing she knows how to do, it is build upon each experience.

As a freshman, she started a total of 17 games. Despite battling injuries, she found success at the plate, hitting four home runs with 15 RBIs and 14 runs scored in 50 at-bats.

This season she started 44 games with 53 total appearances, and hit .270 with 29 runs, 23 RBIs and seven home runs.

"Your hitting and pitching has to be there as well as the defense," Kemp says of the factors going into a successful season in Division I. "We practice every day the routine stuff to make it so that it comes easy and natural. It is definitely a lot harder than high school and travel ball."

As the Foothill League's career home run record-holder with 23, two better than Canyon graduate Crystl Bustos' mark, she was primed for success coming out of high school.

"She was definitely a quiet leader," Watson recalls. "All the girls respected her and everyone knew how amazing a ball player she was. She was still very modest and quiet and spoke by the way she played."

The trend appears to be continuing as a member of one of the nation's elite programs.


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