BENTONVILLE SOFTBALL STANDOUT KASEY WOOD SHINES BRIGHT ON A TEAM FULL OF STARS
By Don Lowe | Photos by Mark Strickland Photos
The phenomenal perspective Bentonville Tigers softball standout senior pitcher/third baseman Kasey Wood has after playing this sport for 12 years is evident and she recognizes, “As I grew older, and my game grew, I realized the most important part of who I am is reflected by what I do for my teammates and what they do for me.
As for Wood’s passion, she says, “What makes this game so enjoyable is being part of something with the ability to affect it and seeing yourself reflected in the greatness of others.
“There is no prouder, more fulfilling feeling than knowing your teammates trust what you have to say and feeling their certainty in me trusting them. The most rewarding part of this sport is every specific person being themselves fully for the greater good of one unique purpose.”
Tigers Softball Head Coach Kent Early appreciates Wood’s terrific overall approach to her craft and he raves, “Kasey has a growth mindset, and she is a student of the game. She continually wants to get better and is the ultimate competitor.
“Kasey is the best third baseman in the state, hands down. She is the Brooks Robinson (Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame third baseman) of softball period. She is a five-tool player (strong at hitting, hitting for power, running, fielding, and throwing). Kasey is all softball, all the time.”
When Wood considers keys to success as her game has improved year by year, she suggests, “The most important factor I had to learn is that every part of the game is its own little game.
“Focusing on this allows me to live fully in the moment of what I’m doing for the team, while forgetting about previous mistakes, and concentrating on the next play. When this clicked for me, the effect of mistakes weighed a lot less on me, while knowing I could still do something positive.”
Wood understands its important being able to handle any adversity that comes her way as well and she admits, “Personal challenges I face at my positions include overcoming self-doubt. So, I try to enter each game trusting my ability and applying it with no fear of the outcome.
“It’s important to play your part regardless of the expectations, wants, or needs you personally have, to be successful. Remembering, moment to moment, that every player plays an equal part allows the anxiety or fear of ruining a game dissolve because you let your teammates pick you up.”
Thinking more about various obstacles and how to tackle them, Wood rationalized, “This is a game of a response. Sometimes other life factors that affect mental health, confidence, or your body all play a role in how you’re able to apply yourself. Being mentally tough and overcoming those struggles is the biggest challenge for players.”
Despite any difficulties along the way, Wood knows good results are possible and she shares, “To succeed in this sport, you must make succeeding collectively with your team more important than your own success.
“Being successful is to understand your role and do it to your greatest capacity. Everyone must succeed individually in their roles for the team to have collective success.”
While Wood is the consummate team player, this talented young lady has every reason to be pleased with her own personal player development and she relates, “The most thrilling part of growing through the game and comparing yourself to previous versions is seeing the inner growth this sport creates.
“It was never good enough to be myself. I wanted part of someone else’s game – to be like that hitter, be as fast as the other girl, and be as composed as another pitcher. As I got older, and started seeing myself in those girls, rather than envying them, I progressed immensely in all aspects of the game.”
Wood adds, “I now understand that being myself will always be enough, and that growth in this sport is always determined by how you apply what you know.”
What Coach Early knows is that Wood is the epitome of a Tigers softball player and he applauds, “Kasey is part of a senior class that has taken the leadership role to heart. This program has always had a culture of ‘lead by example, not by words.’
“Our teams aren’t into the ‘rah-rah’ type things associated with softball. We like to show up, play, and hopefully our play speaks for itself. That’s what Kasey brings to the table. She’s all business. She plays hard, and gives 100 percent all day, every day. It’s a blessing to have players like Kasey in a program.”
Parents: Dad – Jeff, Mom – Trish (Trish was a terrific basketball player at Pea Ridge High School and later was Bentonville Lady Tigers Senior High Girls Basketball Head Coach)
Siblings: Kelsey Wood, 22, a senior at the University of Arkansas; Clancey Wood, 16, a sophomore at Bentonville High School; and Maddie Booher, 17, a junior at Fayetteville High School
Favorite Subject: Literature
Favorite Food: Strawberries
Favorite Softball Movie: For the Love of the Game
Favorite Pro or Collegiate Softball Player: Former Washington Huskies star shortstop Sis Bates & former Texas Longhorns standout infielder Janae Jefferson
Mentor: Missouri State’s Mckenzie Vaughan, also a former Bentonville Tigers Softball star. “Mckenzie was a junior when I was a freshman here at BHS,” Kasey Wood remembered. “She was experienced, composed, and eager to mesh our age differences. Every movement with her had intent. She accepted the role of leadership with caring arms. Her contributions to me, my teammates, and everyone who experienced her leadership still shows today as we continually strive to live up to the traditions and principles of our team, ourselves, our coaches, the team’s future, and our alumni. She instilled composure and acceptance of defeat in my mind, along with the strength to keep going. I am forever indebted to Mckenzie as she helped me to see challenges as opportunities.”
Quotable: “I was introduced to softball at a very early age by practicing with my older sister, Kelsey, and dad and mom in the backyard,” Kasey recollected. “I wanted to be exactly like my older sister, even if that meant getting ground balls hit to me with the same speed and difficulty with a four-year age difference. My admiration for her (Kelsey) inspired me for many years to become who I am.”