The girl on fire: Caroline ‘Tickles’ Kivisto

April 11, 2013 | 11 a.m.

The freshman catcher is an offensive leader in the MIAC

Sports | Jared Nelson for The Clarion

The girl on fire: Caroline ‘Tickles’ Kivisto

Freshman catcher Caroline Kivisto leads her team in batting average, RBIs and slugging percentage. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of BU Sports Information

Although Caroline Kivisto routinely responds to praise with tight-lipped humility, her screaming statistics are loud enough to attract conference-wide attention.

The freshman catcher leads the team with a .518 batting average, .577 on-base percentage, .911 slugging percentage and five home runs as she also leads the MIAC in RBIs with 28. Kivisto has perplexed opposing pitchers through 19 games. But you would never know any of this just by talking to her.

“I’m just having fun out there,” Kivisto said. “My goal is to just keep improving.”

Kivisto credits the team with her own success, saying that the team's spirit and contagious hitting have allowed her to get off to such a hot start.

“When a few people are hitting the ball well, it gives confidence to all of us,” she said.

The team leads the MIAC with a team average of .347, and its pitchers are holding opponents to just a .276 average. Compared to their .285 average last season, the Royals are in good shape.

While there is no denying that the team is hitting the ball well this season, Kivisto’s teammates give her a lot more credit than she gives herself.

“Tickles, as we call her, doesn’t overcomplicate things,” said senior captain Rachel Gilbert. “The coaches see how talented she is, so all they say is, ‘Caroline, go hit,’ and that’s exactly what she does.”

Kivisto spent her winter on the ice for the Royals, playing in all 27 games for the women’s hockey team as a forward. Although she was forced to miss the first few weeks on the diamond because of it, Kivisto said her experience playing hockey may have helped her when the softball season came around.

“The hockey season gave me some confidence and allowed me to be less nervous, since I was able to get rid of some of the first-game jitters,” Kivisto said.

According to Kivisto, having the company of five teammates who play on both the hockey team and the softball team made the transition easier, because they were able to help one another get up to speed with the rest of the team.

“Even though she had to miss time for hockey, she still worked out with softball-specific drills,” Gilbert said. “Caroline still hit when she could and took grounders. We knew that she had potential, so we encouraged her to get in and work, as we do with all of our young players.”

Even with her teammates singing praises about her work ethic, Kivisto remains humble and takes little credit for her own success.

“I'm definitely surprising myself a little bit,” she said. “I wasn't sure how it was going to work out with the numbers and how many girls we have, but I'm really glad I got my shot when we were in Florida [over spring break].”

Gilbert and the rest of the team hope that they can continue to ride Kivisto’s hot streak for as long as possible.

“When someone is hitting like that, it becomes contagious. We’re hitting well and we’re relaxed,” Gilbert said. “It’s so much fun.”

Despite the pressure to keep performing, numbers are the last thing on Kivisto’s mind. She’s far more concerned with improving herself and giving her team the best chance to win.

“I don’t put numbers on it,” she said. “I just want to contribute to the team in a positive way every single day.”

Even though Kivisto is new to the team this year, her team-first attitude embodies everything the softball program stands for.

“Our team doesn't focus on the individual. We're all about the team, and Caroline is a great example of that,” Gilbert said.

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