Just Warming Up

Third baseman Kasey Lange returns to the diamond after a record-breaking freshman campaign in which she led the league in doubles and RBI, setting Crimson records in both categories, and unanimously won the Ivy League Rookie of the Year.

Steven A Soto

Sophomore Kasey Lange made a name for herself as a rookie, starting at third base throughout the 2011 campaign and playing a key role in the Crimson’s title run.

A sophomore slump.

Whether it hits in sports, music, movies, or academics, it’s an unpleasant phenomenon that happens to the best. Just take a look at “Dumb and Dumberer,” MGMT’s “Congratulations,” and the transcripts of many first-semester sophomores.

That said, the second-year blues aren’t expected to be a problem for third baseman Kasey Lange.

While many players coming off a stellar freshman season often find their second year particularly stressful because of the pressure to live up to the previous season’s success, Lange sees it as just the opposite.

“It’s really good to have the freshman jitters out of my system,” Lange said. “I feel more established now, like I don’t necessarily have to prove myself as much. As a freshman, there’s always this thought in the back of your mind, ‘No one knows who I am,’ but now I don’t have to worry about what other people think of me.”

Last season, Lange’s best turned out to be among the top in the Ancient Eight, as she was unanimously voted Ivy League Rookie of the Year, leading the league in doubles (20), RBI (65), and total bases (123). Lange also earned a spot on the All-Ivy First Team and set new season records for the Crimson in RBI and doubles.

Yet despite her success in accumulating stats and breaking records, Lange is far more concerned with garnering achievements for the team as a whole.

“I don’t really care about individual stats,” Lange said. “I’m happy just as long as we as a team come out with a win at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter if I finish 3-for-3 or 1-for-3, as long as my team pulls out with a ‘W.’”

For Lange, the highlight of her freshman season wasn’t the game in which she belted a grand slam or the day that she was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Instead, it was the weekend that the Crimson won the Ancient Eight championship. When asked if that was because she played particularly well, she smiled.

“No, it’s because we played well together as a team,” she said.

Having such a strong team mentality is especially important to Lange. The sophomore believes that during such a pressure-filled rookie season, it was her teammates’ support that helped her settle into her position, where she started all 50 games.

“It was awesome having such a veteran infield around me last year,” Lange said. “I was the baby of the infield, and they were all like my mini coaches. They really taught me a lot about stepping up at the collegiate level.”

Now, playing as a sophomore, Lange has her own opportunity to be a mentor to the seven members of this year’s freshman class.

Several of the rookies live near Lange’s home in Ladera Ranch, Calif., and she was even able to meet with freshman pitcher Gabby Ruiz over the summer to talk about Harvard.

“I’ve definitely been trying to help the freshmen out,” Lange said. “I really hope I can be a person for them to look up to and come to for advice.”

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