McKenzie Long is probably a name you’ve never heard before, but she’s going to be talked about often in relation to MSU’s softball team.
Long is a freshman shortstop from Alta Loma, California, which is an hour outside of Los Angeles.
“I came to State because I just fell in love with it, I fell in love with the teammates, fell in love with the school in general, and just everything about it seemed like home,” Long said.
She has burst on the scene during this young season by providing an offensive spark for the Spartans.
“We don’t typically bring kids that far away from home if we don’t think they’re gonna be great, so, we think she can be great,” head coach Jacquie Joseph said.
Long, who’s been playing softball for 15 years, missed the fall season due to injuries and is dealing with the transition of juggling softball and school.
“There’s been some rough patches, but I think it makes it better just because your teammates are in it with you, so you have somebody to lean on all the time,” Long said.
Even though she is young, Long’s teammates said they believe in her.
“She’s just adjusting, coming in as a freshman. It’s hard from playing high school ball and travel ball, and she has a lot of potential,” senior outfielder Alyssa McBride said. “She’s just got to keep working hard and have confidence in her abilities, and I think she’ll be great.”
Long said the support has helped her adjust to college life.
“My teammates are great,” she said. “They’ve had my back this whole time because it is such a big transition.”
The beginning of the season was nerve-wracking for Long, but she said now she is starting to get comfortable with her position and teammates.
Joseph said that Long is doing well, despite her injuries, and she has met expectations.
“She’s doing all the things she needs to do to get better,” Joseph said. “I think she has potential to start and play in the middle infield for us ... I can’t say enough good things about her.”
Her teammates have noticed her natural ability so far.
“She has a lot of ability, she’s just gotta play her game, play the game that she always has played,” McBride said.
McBride said that Long can be one of the best fielders on the team if she puts her mind to it.
Long said that she has learned about life through softball and it has taught her to deal with anything that life throws at her.
“I believe it’s going to be like this for the next four years,” Long said. “Hard, grinding, but fun.”