Jonathan Alder High School varsity softball coach Dave McGrew knew it when he first saw her as an eighth grader hitting in an indoor league at the indoor facility in Plain City.
From the moment the coach put his eyes on the sweet-swinging lefty catcher Kayla Fredendall he knew she would one day be playing somewhere at the Division I level.
Fredendall, a senior at Jonathan Alder, made her destination for college softball official Thursday, Nov. 17, when she signed a National Letter of Intent to play at Appalachian State University, located in Boone, North Carolina.
“We were in there and a few kids were in there hitting,” McGrew remembers. “A buddy of mine who has a high end boys travel team was in there and he called me and asked me who that strong-looking lefty girl on your high school team who looked like Ken Griffey with the swing, I said actually she’s an eighth grader. We knew then, and then getting her in with our coaches, what a great kid.”
Fredendall kept that sweet swing and continued to improve in other areas and ultimately developed into the D-I athlete she’s always wanted to be. Finding a home away from home was important and she believes she found the perfect place at Appalachian State. She chose the Mountaineers after taking a long look at schools in Ohio and across the South.
“It’s just a big relief,” she said. “I’ve worked my entire life to get here. I’ve always had the dream to go and play college softball. All my hard worked has paid off.
“The town itself is kind of like a home-feeling kind of town. I felt like I’ve known them forever and it was just so nice down there. I know they’ll push me and make me a better player. I looked around in Ohio, but I’ve always wanted to go out of state. So I looked at a few places down South but nothing compared to App.”
Signing her Letter of Intent is just the beginning of what Fredendall hopes will be a strong senior year. No longer is she the quiet freshman who came in as a reluctant starter on the varsity squad, she’s now the seasoned vet who’s trying to bring along another group of talented youngsters.
“She is a fun, happy-go-lucky kid,” McGrew said. “She knows we graduated our best class ever but she knows we have some studs coming in and she has to take on more of a leadership role.”
“I just want to make sure I can get them ready to go,” she said of her younger teammates. “Let them know they can play a big role early and have them work hard. I want to keep them focused, by the time I leave I want this program to still be strong.
“It’s a bit nerve wrecking coming in and playing as a freshman. But as long as you can play, it doesn’t matter how old you are or what grade you’re in.”
Fredendall has earned All-Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and All-Central District honors in past years and seems poised for a big senior season.
“She’s really been working with the younger kids and has taken them under her wing. She knows there’s unfinished business to take care of with this team and she’s really trying to make a difference.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.