In the offseason, Colonel coach Jane Worthington noticed a big hole in her team.

The Eastern Kentucky University softball team didn’t have a first baseman.

After opening tryouts to the entire team for the position, an unlikely member of the EKU squad turned into the front-runner — pitcher Kalyn Fox.

“We didn’t have a true first baseman and I basically threw everybody there and let them fight it out,” Worthington said. “Kalyn was not the one I thought would be playing there but she came in and has made every play I’ve asked her to. Kayln just wants to play.”

Fox, who went to Calloway County High School in Murray, had been a tremendous pitcher in her first three seasons with the Colonels. She has an overall record of 30-29, including an 8-6 record last season with a 3.2 ERA, and pitched a shutout last season against Austin Peay. However, she said switching positions gave her an extra perk.

“I wanted to when I wasn’t pitching, to be in the game,” Fox said. “I knew I could contribute if I wanted to play. Instead of pitching one game and then sitting on the sidelines, I wanted to be in every single game, every single play because I just love to play. That was the motivation. I love to be out there and be involved.”

Just because Fox plays first base doesn’t mean she’s given up on pitching. She has a 3-1 record this season with a 3.68 ERA, has started two games, given up 18 runs on 26 hits while striking out 11. She said it was clear to her when she first tried out that she would be pulling double-duty for EKU.

“(Coach Worthington) told me that she would let me try out for first base but I had to remember that I had an obligation to pitching,” Fox said. “I was expected to do both. It wasn’t one or the other. She said that I was still a pitcher but more than welcome to try at first and whoever earned the spot would get it.”

It’s not just her work on the field that is getting her noticed. Fox’s work in the classroom has also been recognized nationally — last season, she was on the ESPN The Magazine Aca-demic All-District Second Team. Worthington said the thing that sets her apart from most of the rest of the players is her work ethic, both on and off the field.

“The thing about Kayln, whether it’s in the classroom or on the field, it doesn’t matter what she does, she goes at it 100 percent,” Worthington said. “She’s determined. A ball goes in the dirt and she won’t let it get by her. She’s going to make her teammates look good. She’s a bright kid and she thinks in advance. I could sit there and tell her she’s terrible and she would still go out there and prove me wrong. She’s that type of kid. She is going to be a success story in life.”

Because of her experience on the mound, Fox said she’s another voice on the field supporting her pitchers as well. With her game experience, she can help EKU’s three main starting pitchers — Chelsea Butler, Stacye Toups and Brittany Mockbee.

“When I’m out there with them, I encourage them and keep talking to them and cheer them on,” she said. “I remind them that it’s just them and (catcher) Jena (Handley) and not the batter. I try to keep them pumped up and ready to go, every pitch. While they’re out there, there’s nobody better.”

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