Kait Constantino Continuing Education And Softball Career At Grove City

Kait Constantino Continuing Education And Softball Career At Grove City (05/11/2020)

(Above photo submitted) Kait with letter of intent, joined by Clarion Area Head Coach Dan Shofestall, flanked by Kait’s parents Kim and Dave Constantino

Clarion Area Lady Cats student-athlete Kait Constantino, daughter of Dave and Kim Constantino of Clarion, recently signed to play softball at Grove City College, while also continuing her academic career, majoring in Exercise Science. After receiving her degree, Kait plans to continue her education in Physical Therapy.

The Wolverines, under Head Coach Kristen (Hughes) Cramer, are an NCAA Division III program competing in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. Coach Cramer is a 2008 Grove City graduate and is an Assistant Professor in Exercise Science.

Kait didn’t get to compete for her senior season, due to the Coronavirus shutdown. But she had a stellar high school career, nonetheless. Kait was named First Team All-State pitcher by the Pennsylvania High School Softball Association (PHSSA) after her junior season in 2019, when she went 17-6 for Coach Dan Shofestall’s Lady Cats, who were District Nine Class-A runners-up and PIAA State quarterfinalists. She struck out 245 batters, setting the team record, while hitting .500 during the campaign.

Kait was also named First Team All-Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference, as well as, D9Sports.com Pitcher of the Year.

(Photo by Kim Constantino) Kait Constantino delivering a pitch in 2019 PIAA quarterfinal game

Kait was also named Second Team All-State at third base, by the PHSSA, as a sophomore in 2018.

She also played for the Tri-City Thunder travel softball team, coached Ed Winger, for a number of years.

In addition to softball, some of Kait’s other achievements included being named to the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association (PVCA) All-State Team this past season, as well as, going over the 1,000 point barrier in basketball for the 2019-20 Lady Cats and finished her career with 1,314 points, which is third on the team’s all-time list.

(Grove City College photo) Grove City Coach Kristen (Hughes) Cramer

Coach Cramer had this to say about her new recruit, “At Grove City College Softball we are always on the hunt for high caliber athletes: those with athletic talent, academic achievements and, of course, high character. So naturally, when we saw Kaitlyn pitch in the PIAA tournament last year we could see she had the ability. She’s a pitcher that can throw, hit and steal bases -what more could a college coach ask for?!”

Coach Cramer continued, “But then you get to know her, and you see that she meets the other criteria as well. As you get acquainted with her, you learn that she is dedicated to her softball craft, her family and her faith. That’s exactly the type of person we are looking for.

“The mission of Grove City College softball is to equip our minds for the future, to forge bonds of faith and to play for softball championships. Given everything we know about her, we are confident that she will thrive with our program.”

“I think anyone would tell you that this 2020 season has been an anomaly. And it’s unfortunate Kaitlyn did not have the opportunity to shine in her final season with Clarion (because undoubtedly she would have), but we are thrilled to have her continue her softball career with the Wolverines.”

Kait shared her reasons for her college choice. “Grove City College, saying is a place that truly felt like home for me, the minute I stepped on campus. After I visited GCC in the summer, I knew that this college was at the top of my list.

“I knew that the teachers and community wanted you to achieve the calling that we have received from God. Being surrounded by people who want you to grow in your faith while being successful in the classroom, is extremely encouraging.”

Her experience with the her future Wolverines teammates and coach helped to seal the deal. “Once I spent the night at GCC with the softball team, I knew that Grove City was the place for me. All the girls on the team were so kind and welcoming to me, and made sure that I felt like I was at home.

“Coach Cramer really impacted my decision as well, because she deeply cares for each and every one of her players. I could tell that the camaraderie on Grove City’s team, was way more special than any other school.

“Besides softball, I knew that Grove City focused heavily on their academics, and that’s what drew me even closer to the school.”

(Photo by Kim Constantino) 2019 Lady Cats Second Place District Nine, Class-A, PIAA State Quarterfinalists

Kait has great memories from her time with the Lady Cats. “I am so grateful that I got the chance to be a part of Clarion Softball for four years of my life. The amount of support and love that the coaches give is uncanny. I would not be the player I am today without my coaches and teammates.

“My teammates have been like family to me, and they always back me up in every game.

“I want to thank Coach Dan for continuing to believe in me, on and off the field. We have been so successful over the years because of his coaching. In addition, I am extremely thankful for Coach John, Coach Randy, Coach Best  and my dad. Their coaching has helped develop me into a strong and confident leader on the field.”

And about the travel ball team she grew up with, Kait said, “Tri-City Thunder has been a major event in my life, where I’ve made lifelong friendships and memories. I will never forget the late nights together in the hotels, card games, ice cream trips, yearly parties, and successful tournaments.

“I can’t pick a favorite memory from travel ball, because every moment with those girls were so joyful and enjoyable. I will always remember going to the Cheesecake Factory and Natu-Roll with Gracie. Gracie and I were so much alike, that it was scary. Since we were both pitchers, we have always had such a tight bond, and I am so grateful for the friendship we’ve developed through Thunder.”

(Tri-City Thunder photo ) Tri-City Thunder 18U, winners of the Olean, NY Synergy Tournament Champions

And of her special bond with Coach Wingard, Kait said, “I would not be the pitcher I am today without my pitching coach, Ed Wingard. Since I started pitching lessons at 8 years old, Ed would continue to help me approve my fundamentals and skills. Ed has taught me so many invaluable lessons and tips about pitching, and I hope that I can have an impact instructing a younger pitcher, as much as Ed has had an impact on me.”

“Kait’s family is very important in her success in softball and life. “I want to thank my family for their endless support, and for always being there for me.

“Since my first day of pitching lessons, my dad has always been my catcher. The bond we have created through this game is uniquely ours, and I wouldn’t trade the countless memories for the world.

“My mom has been our own personal photographer, and has captured priceless memories from my high school career. I am going to miss having every moment of every game being captured by her.”

Kait mentioned her older sister Alexis, who also was All-State for the Lady Cats in softball and baseball. “My sister has helped develop me into the athlete I am today. She has pushed me to be the very best that I could be, and everything always ended up to be a competition between the two of us (which made us better). I miss those special times on the field and court with my sister.”

(Photo by Kim Constantino) Smiling sisters Kaitlyn and Alexis

Kait concluded by saying, “Not only do my family have a big impact on my athletic career, they also have a huge part of the person who I am today.

“They always tell me that at the end of the day, nothing else matters except giving all the glory to God. At first, I was terribly disappointed that my senior year was going to end this way. I was upset that I wasn’t going to be able to participate in end of the year activities for seniors with my friends, and that I wasn’t going to be able to play my senior season in softball. As I had time to collect my thoughts, I came back to the concept that God is in control. Even though this situation is upsetting, I know that God has a bigger and better plan.”

Coach Shofestall shared, “I want to congratulate Kaitlyn on her decision to attend Grove City College and continue her education and play softball at the collegiate level.

(Kim Constantino photo) Kait with Clarion Manager Dan Shofestall

“I’ve watched Kaitlyn play the game of Softball for a number of years up and through little league, travel ball and the high school level. She always had a love and passion for the game of softball and competed very hard at it. I know it’s been a dream of hers to continue her career at the college level. Kaitlyn has spent many hours over the years working on her skills on the game of softball. She has especially worked long and hard on the craft of pitching, at which she excels. She has had two very good coaches in John Stroup and Ed Winger who have helped and guided her along the way.

“I am so happy to see Kaitlyn getting the chance and opportunity to continue what she loves to do at the college level. I believe Grove City College will be a good fit for both the school and Kaitlyn. The Wolverines will be getting a player who will be able to help them in all phases of the game. I also believe, they are getting one of the top pitchers in the state. Grove City College will also be getting a very good scholar athlete who takes her studies very seriously.

“In return Kaitlyn will be getting the opportunity to continue her education at a very  good school and play for a very solid softball program and continue doing what she loves to do. It’s a win for Grove City and a win for Kaitlyn. I congratulate both parties and wish them both the very best.

“In thinking back over the years of Kaitlyn playing softball, i have seen her compete in many various situations and circumstances, through adversity, tough times, good times, trying times, winning times, losing times and special times with TEAMMATES, FRIENDS and FAMILIES. She has matured through the years and become the player she is today in all areas of her game.

“I’m very proud of what Kaitlyn has accomplished  in her life so far. Not only in softball but also in volley ball and basketball.  She has worked hard and done well at everything she has competed in. She has learned to balance the responsibilities of playing three sports, while keeping up with her  studies in school. Managing her time wisely, as all good athletes do, is something that will serve her well in the years to come. I’m very happy for Kaitlyn and wish her the very best as she moves on to college next year.

“Once again, I congratulate Kaitlyn and her family.”

Coach Winger also had some fine things to say. “I have the utmost respect for the wonderful young lady Kaitlyn has become. As a pitching/Tri-City Thunder fastpitch coach, I have always admired her personality, character, competitive nature and drive to succeed in the variety of activities she chose. Kait has excelled at a high level in Tri-City Fastpitch and Clarion Bobcat softball.

(Kim Constantino photo) With pitching instructor and Tri-City CoachEd Winger after Lady Cats’ 2019 PIAA State Quarterfinal game

“I am proud to have played a small part in her softball career and happy that she will continue to play a sport she loves at a great college in my home town!

“Since I have ‘retired’ from Tri-City Thunder, I am looking forward to having some time to watch Kait play next year.  Congratulations, Kait, and good luck in this next adventure of your life. I know you’ll do well!”

Kait’s parents, Dave and Kim shared, “As parents, we were holding out hope that Kait would have the opportunity to play softball one final season as a Clarion Bobcat. We thought this team had the potential to make a serious run towards a state championship this year.

Coach and Father Dave, Kait and mother Kim, team photographer.

“Unfortunately, COVID19 had other plans.   We had a day of feeling down, but then realized that in the end, God is still good and in control, even if it didn’t go as we had hoped it would.

“Kaitlyn has loved the game of softball since she was seven. She used to follow her sister, Alexis, to pitching lessons. Initially, it was Alexis who started taking pitching lessons with Ed Winger in Franklin. It didn’t take long for Kait to want to try doing the same thing as her big sister, and she fell in love with it from the get go.

“Since that time, she has poured countless hours into perfecting her pitching and adding so many different types of pitches to her repertoire. Her hours consisted of pitching lessons with Ed, utilizing her pitching machine (Finch Windmill), and hours upon hours in the backyard pitching to her dad. Dave was able to keep up with  her until about three years ago when he had to add shin guards and a face mask!

She was a perfectionist during her lessons/practices.  She wouldn’t settle with ending a lesson until she was satisfied with her performance. Even though this season has ended at the high school level, she still continues to pitch about 3 times a week as prepares to transition to being a pitcher with the Grove City College Wolverines.

“In choosing a college, she spent a lot of time in communication with various colleges/universities (Mercyhurst, Waynesburg, Clarion, and Grove City).  She finally narrowed it down to two schools, Mercyhurst and Grove City.  She spent a lot of time in prayer before making the decision to commit to Grove City.

“We have loved watching Kaitlyn grow through all areas of her life:  academically, athletically, and  spiritually.   We are excited to watch her spread her wings and grow as she enters a new phase of her life at Grove City.

The Constantinos (L-R) Kim, Kaitlyn, Alexis and Dave after Kaitlyn being crowned 2019 Clarion Area Homecoming Queen

“We would like to thank our Clarion Bobcat softball family for all of the memories over the years.   We would especially like to thank all of the Bobcat coaches:  Coach Dan Shofestall, Coach Randy Reynolds, Coach John Stroup, Coach Matt Best, and Coach Kaitlin Wenner, and of course Ed Winger, who started her journey as a pitcher.  We will surely miss all of the players and their families.  It has been a special group to be with over the years.”

Dave, Alexis and Kait in Little League days.

Congratulations to Kait, her family, her coaches and teammates from Clarion Area and Tri-City Thunder and the Grove City Wolverines. Kait, it has been a pleasure watching you grow as a player and young lady, from Little League days through the present. Wishing you All the Best at Grove City!!!!

(CSN Note: Coaches and parents, Clarion Sports Zone would love to do signing articles on any student-athletes moving on to participate in college sports.Please forward information to Clarion Sports Zone by email to: davemcclaine@yahoo.com.)