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COC's Kimmie Lockhart: Moving on up

COC pitcher Kimmie Lockhart graduated early from Saugus to play for the Cougars

Posted: May 6, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 6, 2012 1:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons pitcher Kimmie Lockhart threw a no-hitter in the Cougars first playoff game on Saturday.

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She looked as comfortable as ever standing inside the circle.

It didn’t matter that College of the Canyons’ pitcher Kimmie Lockhart found herself trailing in a game in which she hadn’t allowed a hit — a run that put her team down 1-0 in the fourth inning of first game of the Cougars’ playoff series against Santa Barbara City College on Saturday.

And for good reason — this was why she came to COC. To win.

And winning is what she’s been doing all season.

The COC freshman was 21-1 during the regular season, amassing a 2.97 ERA and was named to the California Community College All-State team.

But it’s not just her dominance on the field that makes her remarkable — it’s which field in particular.

The 18-year-old college freshman should be a high school senior — she was a junior at Saugus High last year.

But as the season wound down, Lockhart was conflicted about her next move.

“It wasn’t the right environment for me,” Lockhart says of Saugus. “It’s a great program, but I guess I just belong on COC more than Saugus.”

So she doubled up on classes during the summer and first semester of her senior year so that she could graduate in December 2011.

“There were a lot of different reasons, but mostly I felt that (COC head coach John Wissmath) was a great coach and he was a pitcher himself,” Lockhart says. “And I just needed a coach that really knew about pitchers and stuff, and I needed that to help me get better and I feel like it has. I feel like coach has taught me so much stuff this year that in high school I probably would have never learned. So I think it’s a good choice.”

So she decided to take a leap and join the Cougars.

It was a decision motivated by softball, but one that meant leaving everything that goes with your senior year of high school behind.

“Especially being a girl, having to miss out on prom and stuff like that, it’s a really hard choice to make,” Lockhart says.

“It’s sad, but I don’t regret it at all. Thinking on what I gave up, as in my senior year, really makes me want to make this last playoff season — the last couple games I have left — it makes me want to work that much harder.”

And so that’s what she has done.

She entered the season a high school-aged girl who needed to find more confidence. Now, she’s an established college player who has taken over the team’s top pitching spot.

All she needed was a spark — and by all accounts it came in COC’s 18th game of the season against Bakersfield.

“Kimmie was picking up the confidence, but she needed a wake-up call,” Wissmath says. “She was throwing well until the fourth inning. I don’t know what happened, but she got thrown off a bit.”

It turned out to be the Cougars’ first loss of the season, and it came in the form of an 11-3 mercy-rule loss.

“That sparked her desire to push harder at practice and make sure she succeeds from there on out,” adds Wissmath. “From there on out you could see the transformation. ‘Not again. That is not going to happen again.’”

And it hasn’t.

The girl who 12 months ago wasn’t sure where she’d play this season, is poised to be the top pitcher on the first Canyons softball team to advance past the first round of the playoffs.

“She’ll have a big impact (on our success),” says catcher Amy Droege. “Whether she’s pitching or our other pitcher’s pitching, (Lockhart’s) presence on the field — she’s always excited or upbeat — she’s always there for the team. No matter what she’s doing, whether she’s in the circle or hitting, she’ll have a big impact.”

That started on Saturday.

Lockhart didn’t just bounce-back after Santa Barbara scored — she bounced back in extraordinary fashion finishing off the no-hitter in the Cougars 7-2 victory.

All from a girl who wasn’t sure where to play.

Turns out she made the right choice.

661-287-5530

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