First, she was a dominating championship pitcher in the McLean Little League girls softball program, then later in high school the same for the Bishop O’Connell Knights.
Now, in just two seasons of Division I college ball, Kathryn Sandercock is making a big impact on the mound for the Florida State Seminoles, with 22 career wins already. The sophomore righty had a 9-1 record in the 2020 season shortened because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a freshman, Sandercock was 13-0 and was chosen to the Atlantic Coast Conference all-rookie team.
“Your freshman year is so much of a learning experience,” Sandercock said. “You have to become part of the culture, and that can be overwhelming at first. This year I was stronger, more responsible, I know the routine and I’m a better teammate.”
The psychology major established herself as a top pitcher during her freshman season. This spring Sandercock became one of Florida State’s top hurlers. During the shortened 2020 schedule, she had started and worked in relief, with one save.
“I’m my toughest critic, but I thought I fully bought into the mental game this season,” Sandercock said. “Now I have a routine before each pitch I have a focal point on the field, I take a lot of deep breaths and slow myself down.”
Her final start this season was a four-inning two-hit, no-run winning effort. She allowed just one hit in six innings in an earlier victory against Longwood.
Sandercock’s loss was a tough-luck extra-inning setback Feb. 16 against the UCLA Bruins, a game the Seminoles and the pitcher would have won had a difficult catch had been made in the outfield. The Bruins were ranked No. 1 in the country on March 10 by ESPN.com/USA.
“We were all full of energy for that game,” Sandercock said. “We were doing well and we believed the team was going to go really far this season.”
Tommy Orndorff, Sandercock’s coach at O’Connell, attended the UCLA game.
“Kathryn really looked on top of her game against UCLA,” Orndorff said. “If the season had continued and she kept pitching that way, she could have had a real special season.”
Sandercock said the hitters are all overall so much better than in high school.
“In college you have to plan for each hitter. You can’t just throw three fastballs down the middle and get a strikeout,” she said. “That makes it so much more satisfying when you probably execute a pitching plan and get a batter out.”
Sandercock pitched in 17 games and 602/3 innings this spring. She had a 2.19 earned run average, two saves, 35 strikeouts and 11 walks. Opponents were batting .221 against her.
As a freshman, she worked 911/3 frames, had a 1.99 ERA, had one save, made 11 starts and had 49 strikeouts.
Sandercock was a strong hitter in high school, but no longer bats in college. That was her decision, so she can concentrate totally on pitching.
“I fool around in batting practice hitting a bit sometimes, but I love pitching so much,” she said.
Sandercock is staying sharp during the shutdown by regularly pitching to her father, Colin, who was a Division III college catcher, and following Florida State’s workout guidelines. Her grandfather was a minor league catcher.
At O’Connell, Sandercock was chosen Virginia’s Gatorade Player of the Year in softball as a junior, was the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Player of the Year one season, and received all-state Player of the Year honors her junior and senior years.
She is one of the program’s all-time winningest pitchers.
While in Little League, Sandercock helped McLean win district, state and region tournaments and advance to the World Series, where the team finished second in 2013.
She would like to some day play in the college softball World Series with Florida State as well.
The pitcher also was a member of the USA under-19 National Team a couple of summers ago.