Whether she’s giving her best Freddie Mercury impression pregame or leading cheers in the dugout during the game, nobody can deny Katherine Matthys’ talent off the field. However, this year she is showcasing her talent on the field as well.
“I can’t say enough about the person she is and the growth that she has made in her game is just a combination of the work she put in and her amazing trust that she has in our awesome hitting coach,” head coach Paige Smith said. “She comes in early every day and asks for extra reps all the time.”
After appearing in only 15 games through her first two seasons, Matthys has played in 38 games so far this season for the Pirates. But Matthys has done more than just play. The Spring Branch, Texas native is currently fifth on the team in hitting and has 17 RBIs, 15 more than her first two years combined.
For Matthys, the change at the plate has been largely mental.
“Just mentally having an approach coming to the plate is something that I didn’t quite have in the past couple of years,” Matthys said. “I used to just go up and swing but now I know what I’m good at, I know what I’m capable of and I know that’s the pitch I’m going to hit.”
“They say hitting is 90 percent mental for a reason, but I think part of the mentality that people tend to overlook quite a bit is simply just the confidence you have in yourself and your outlook when you go to plate,” Smith said. “Everyday Kat plays this game like a T-baller it’s so fun to be around.”
To say Matthys has fun would be an understatement.
“I think personality-wise, I just have a lot of it,” Matthys said. I have been able to harness it in a way that I can connect with a lot of different people so whether it’s me catching and connecting with whoever’s on the mound or in the dugout using my artistic musical skills to drop a beat and have everybody get up in there. I guess it’s taking whatever I think I can do and using it to help the team in any way that I can.”
Although her contributions on the field are just beginning to take shape, her presence off the field was immediately apparent.
“At first you don’t know what to do when you’ve got a freshman who is literally a pirate, whenever she wants to be,” Smith said. “One day her mom sent her a stuffed bird. She named that bird Jackie and she used to wear her in the dugout. Then Jackie got lost and then Jackie got broken and had no tail.”
Matthys picked up a new friend for Jackie when the junior won Breakthrough Female Athlete of the Year at the annual SHUCademy awards, an end of the year award show held to honor accomplishments of Seton Hall student-athletes.
“I wasn’t surprised a bit,” Smith said of Matthys winning the award. “It’s kind of cool when you have a kid who comes in and says, ‘How do I get back on the field,’ and you tell them, and then they do it, it’s like the coolest thing in the universe. We, as coaches, all hope for that.”
“I feel like it’s kind of conceited but I kind of knew coming in I had a good chance to get it. When you go from hitting literally zero for two years to hitting near .300 there’s a good chance that you’re going to win some sort of award,” Matthys said. “I was honestly stoked to get it. I went and got a new outfit just for the awards. It just feels great to have that sitting at home now.”
Proving that a positive attitude is half the battle, Matthys will look to help lead the Pirates to a Big East Championship berth, the program’s first since 2015, in a huge series at Creighton to end the regular season.
Nick Santoriello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NickSantoriello