Hot Streak Kiannah
Written By: Lalo Mata
Published: June 28, 2020
Hot Streak Kiannah
Kiannah Pierce was on her way up to the top of the Sheldon Huskies Softball program record list with a season left to break the all-time career hits list.
Pierce will be coming in as a high-level hitter from the Sacramento area all the way to North Carolina at UNC where she will be put to the test from day one.
When you hear the name Kiannah Pierce all you’re left to think about is hits. HITS HITS and even more HITS. As a four-year varsity starter for the Huskies, she was able to hit for a batting average of .508 and reach base safely with a .560 OBP. Within those 91 games played at a powerhouse program, she collected 153 hits.
Speaking of a hot streak hitting machine, Kiannah only got eight at-bats to kick off a senior year and ended her short-lived senior season with seven hits. Kiannah discussed her determination and knew she could be at the top of the list just 49 hits shy of breaking the old record of 201 career hits.
Kiannah is no new face to powerhouse teams when you play for a travel team like LTG. LTG has been a team known for their success in sending softball players to the next level such as her former teammate Vianna Barron who currently plays at Eastern Kentucky University. Sheldon is no stranger to this trend by sending players like Vianna, Grace Owen, Kenedi Brown, Tessa Poirier, and Shelbie Caro to college programs all over the country in just the past two years.
What are the struggles of the recruitment process? Why?
“For me, the recruitment process was a little different. Most people would have said I was late to the game because I was out because of injury for a year when I was 11. Which is crazy to think we were being looked at by colleges that early on. But, I had a major spinal fusion surgery so I had to take a year off. Once I got back into playing, I think the hardest part of the recruitment process was knowing what I wanted. Softball girls (used to be) so young when we got looked at that it was hard to trust that you were making the right decision. Also, you have a lot of outside people giving you their opinion. I know for me, I am very strong-willed and independent but I still had numerous people telling me to pick the Ivy Leagues or stay in California, or that they wouldn’t go to the schools that were looking at me, etc. I think now that the new NCAA rules making people hold off on commitment until junior year, a lot more girls will find their home. It’s important to be old enough to know what you want and visit the schools and be able to be comfortable. Luckily for me, I chose exactly where I want to be... but a lot of girls end up changing their minds.”
Do you feel robbed since you won’t get a chance to break a school record at Sheldon high? Why?
“The competitor in me says yes. I feel robbed. I wanted to break that record, but I also feel totally robbed as a teammate. The record to me wasn’t just about me. I haven’t ever been one to show off my awards or “boast”, but I have always done everything for my team. My goal was always to break the record for my team. I knew to get that many hits would have meant so many runs scored and base runners moved around for my team this season. The record wasn’t my main goal this season... leaving a legacy and helping the younger girls become better leaders was. This season I wanted to help the juniors and sophomores prepare to be the captains next year. That’s what hurts the most about season getting canceled. At the same time, I am super into science and Biotech so I understand why the season needed to be canceled. It was hard to cope with at first but it was necessary for everyone’s health and safety and I’m just thankful that I got the time I did at Sheldon.”
Kiannah shows exactly why she was a big part of Sheldon’s success over the years. A true competitor and being a good teammate is what pushed Pierce to be the hit hitter we all know.
What advice would you give to younger softball players?
“I have a few pieces I would give them.
First, always know how to bunt. I can’t tell you how many times I have won and lost, a game because of a bunt situation. My coaches always told me ‘if you can’t bunt, you can’t hit’. Yes sometimes that seemed harsh but it’s true. Bunting was always my way to rest my timing and get back on track.
Second, always make sure you’re having fun and loving the game. When I was younger I dealt with a mentally abusive coach that almost led me to quit softball. It wasn’t fun anymore, too much pressure. I always say my surgery was a blessing in disguise because it gave me an avenue out of that team and coaching situation. It helped me grow and find the love of the game again. So always make sure you’re having fun and love the game. And I’m not saying after a bad practice quit or a bad tournament throw in the towel. But if it’s genuinely not bringing you joy every time you step on the field, either find a way to find the love again or move on.
Third.. this one comes from one of my coaches. ‘It’s not enough to aspire to be the best ON the team, you should aspire to be the best FOR the team’. Now, this has always been big for me. Always play the role you’re given for your team. It isn’t all about personal goals. You should work for the team on the team goal. That’s what I always tried to do at Sheldon. No matter what position in the field or in the lineup, my goal was to do whatever was best for the team.
Lastly, it all about the mental game. You should always work to be MENTALLY stronger than the other team and anyone you’re playing against. Your mental game is what will set you apart from everyone else. Read books, study collegiate players, watch youtube videos of drills, always work your brain muscle.”
Kiannah has truly come a long way from the lessons, injuries, and the battle of coaching and now she can say she’s going to one of the most well-known universities in the nation.
Who has made the biggest impact on your career? How?
"I’m not sure that I have just one specific person. I would say first, my mom. I started playing because she was a stellar pitcher and played growing up so like most daughters would, I followed in her footsteps. She’s done everything for me: took me to tournaments, paid way too much money for gear, taken me to the field for extra work, you name it she’s been right beside me.
Two others that made a big impact were my coaches Jim Carda and Joe Henderson. I only played for Coach Jim for one season, but it was my rehab season after my surgery. This was huge for me. He took a chance on a kid that literally told him “I am still unable to sprint, slide, or play in any games. but I need a place to practice and get better. Will you please just give me a chance?” And he did. He let me ride the bench at tournaments and work my way back up to where I needed to be. Without him, I don’t know what I would’ve done. And Coach Joe was my LTG coach for about 5 years. He never let me settle. I worked and worked to fight for my spot on that team. I started at the bottom on the totem pole and worked for a starting outfield spot and also the leadoff spot in the lineup. He pushed me to be more than I thought I could.
Probably most importantly, Coach Truesdale and the entire SHS coaching staff. I genuinely LOVED playing for Sheldon. It was all I looked forward to every year. I learned more about myself and had more personal growth than I ever imagined I would. Which in turn, led to immense growth on the field. Coach Truesdale always made me feel like she had the most confidence in the world in me, so did all of the coaches. I felt like I belonged. All of the coaches taught me how to trust myself and my abilities. This was crucial for me. I learned to play my game and own it."
How have you handled your extended offseason before college?
"This offseason has proven difficult only because everything is shut down lol. At first, I used this time as recovery. It’s not often that us softball players get a day off or even months off. We are always going pedal to the metal between high school ball, travel ball, hitting lessons, strength and agility workouts, and more. Our bodies don’t get much recovery time. So I started the “offseason” with recovery. A lot of stretching, working on my mental game (so important), did some yoga, ate a clean diet, and focused a lot on me. I was also doing some workouts throughout the week just to keep my body moving, just not as high intensity. Now and since the middle of April, I have upped my intensity. Working out 4 days a week AT LEAST. I have a summer workout for college I have been doing: two strength days a week and two running days. I’ve been taking ground balls and hitting almost daily. Making sure I’m refining my skills and just looking to go into August and college as prepared as possible to earn a starting spot.”
What impact do you look to make at UNC?
“Like any other player going into college, I would like to earn a starting spot. But I would also like to make a difference on the team. If I’m unable to be on the field, I want to make a difference in the dugout. For me, it means more to help the team any way I can. If that means being the loudest in the dugout then I’ll do that, if it means being in the outfield then I’ll go back to my home in the grass, if it means just hitting in the lineup then I’ll work to make the most impact I can in the lineup. Most importantly, I want to be the best teammate possible. I think if I can play my role needed for the team and help the team win, then that will be the greatest impact I can have. “
As we inch closer to the fall semester of Kiannah’s freshman year we can look forward to her working her way on the field as well as climbing up the lineup for a UNC team. Hopefully, we get to see the hitting machine from Sacramento be able to play a season next spring.