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A Creature of Habit

Kaitlynn Nelson. Photo courtney of Pace Athletics.

Kaitlynn Nelson. Photo courtney of Pace Athletics.

TJ Combs, Featured Writer

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It is said that pitchers are creatures of habit and that any microcosmic change or adjustment to their game, preparation, or lifestyle will upset the universe. Pace softball’s pitcher Kaitlynn Nelson habitual and anti-superstitious ways makes all the difference, however.

A two-time Northeast-10 (NE-10) Conference Pitcher of the Week and All-Conference player, it may come as a surprise that an athlete with natural skill on the field relies on a bit of good fortune to rack up wins.

Whether it’s a lucky handshake with her catcher Nikole Larm or eating the same protein bar before every game, the senior starting pitcher says luck plays a sort of role in big wins both home and away.

“I don’t like to be like everyone else,” said Nelson, who won NE-10 Pitcher of the Week between Mon., Mar. 20-26. “I want to be different and define how I stand out, [even] through my pitching.”

Luck and superstition aren’t all Nelson relies on when she pitches, but she also puts faith into a lucky sunflower she wears in her hair every game.

The sunflower is in respect to the Florida Gators softball team, her favorite D-I softball team. The Gators wear the flower to honor Florida teen Heather Braswell who passed away from cancer in 2014.

“I love the fact that she worshiped them but in the same respect they looked up to her,” Nelson said. “That resonated with me and I liked that symbol. It’s good to play for yourself but I like to have that [symbol].”

Nelson was an incremental piece to the Setters’ 28-16 overall record and NE-10 Conference Championship title before falling to LIU Post in the NCAA East Regional round in 2016. to went 11-6 with a 2.17 ERA, allowed 82 hits, 108 strikeouts, and made the NE-10 All-Conference Team.

“Softball has been the most constant thing in my life, whether it’s work or a social life, it’s softball before everything else,” said Nelson, who’s 5-2 with a 1.98 ERA as of Apr. 2. “[Softball] requires constant communication skills and this sport has developed me 100 percent to the person I am today.

“It has taught me more than I’ve ever realized, whether it’s being on time, having responsibilities, or showing up but not just showing up and going through the motions. You put in work, build relationships with people, and keep pushing.”

Nelson, the sister of a US Airman, also writes her brother’s initials in the dirt after every pre-game National Anthem to honor his service, as another example of a good luck pregame ritual.

Nelson plans on using her business management degree to explore the world of fashion or event planning after graduation this May.

“My desire is to be different, that’s why I guess I like fashion,” the 21-year-old Ojai, Cali. native said. “I’ve never really followed trends.”

For the remainder of the season, Nelson will still have that lucky sunflower in her hair, a protein bar before every game, and draw her brother’s initials in the dirt. It’s those remedies that will make Pace Softball conference champions two years running, but chances are this seasoned starting pitcher has little to leave to chance

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