Past accolades create big expectations for freshman pitcher Kemp


Photo: Nicole Wiegand/Iowa State Daily

Although Miranda Kemp, freshman in kinesiology and pitcher for the ISU softball team, spent the fall season rehabbing her pitching shoulder following surgery, she’ll take her place once again on the mound as the Cyclones head to Tempe, Ariz., for the Littlewood Classic on Saturday, Feb. 18.

Travis Cammon

At the end of last season, softball coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler wanted to add a little more depth to her team after the departure of workhorse Rachel Zabriskie, who graduated last spring.

“We have a really balanced team this year,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “I feel good about [the pitching staff]; they are going to be effective as long as they work together.”

One of those offseason acquisitions is former Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year finalist Miranda Kemp.

“It’s a pretty big deal to have her here,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “We saw her about three years ago at a tournament and started recruiting her. She came out, fell in love with the place and picked Iowa State.”

Kemp, a true freshman from Haymarket, Va., attended Battlefield High School, where she compiled an impressive list of awards including All-Area Player of the Year, All-Region Player of the Year and two-time first-team All-State honors among many others.

“Growing up, she was the typical kid being dragged around to softball games,” said Bobby Kemp, Miranda’s father. “I was the old guy who still thought he could play, so she would come to my men’s tournaments and by 4 or 5 she was keeping score.”

It was because of this that Miranda developed a love for the game of softball.

“I was always at the field with him,” Miranda said. “I was always around it; in between his games I was throwing all the time. I think that taught me a lot about the game.”

The Cyclones are hopeful Miranda’s level of performance increases at the collegiate level as well.

“I think she’s throwing great,” said senior pitcher Lauren Kennewell of Miranda. “She hasn’t played in a college game yet, so this weekend is definitely big for her to get out there and show what she can do because it’s definitely different from high school.”

The Gatorade State Player of the Year award is given to athletes on the basis of athletic achievement at the club, national or international levels of competition, as well as standout performances in their respective sport. It is also a review of academic honors and distinctions, according to Gatorade’s official website.

“It was kind of sprung upon me,” Miranda said. “I really didn’t know too much about it. My high school teacher gave me a recommendation letter and my coach sent it in.”

Miranda’s high school coach, Joe Schelzo, said she was not a surprise contender for the award after having seen what she could do on the mound.

“She always possessed strong basic skills,” Schelzo said. “What was most impressive was her ability to pick up her level of performance to a new level in the postseason of both her junior and senior seasons.”

In Miranda’s senior season, she pitched a whopping 36 games, earning shutout victories in 26 of those contests.

“I think that’s one of the reason’s she chose Iowa State,” Bobby said. “I never really had to push her hard, she was always just motivated. In high school, she was a big fish in a small pond. But now she is entering the Big 12, where she’s just another fish in the pond, so you really have to work hard.”

Kemp’s father also expressed pride in his daughter’s potential to succeed at the Division I level.

“It’s hard to put into words how proud of her I am” Bobby said. “She’s worked so hard and sacrificed some of the normal kid things in her early childhood and teens, but she understands that it’s paying off now that she’s living her dream of playing at the college level against some of the best competition in the nation.”

The best competition is certainly what they get as Miranda and the rest of the Cyclones will be in competition again at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz., which will be hosted by defending national champion Arizona State.

“It’s kind of like what the football and now the basketball team has been upsetting some Big 12 teams,” Bobby said. “Miranda wants to be one of the people that does that for the softball team. That would be awesome if they can do it.”