Island stepping up for Bulldog softball team

Gering’s Kiana Island watches her hit during a softball game against Alliance on Tuesday evening at Oregon Trail Park in Gering. Island is embracing the move from first to third base during her senior season.

Kiana Island is setting sail into a senior softball season with plenty of highlights in her four years on the Gering varsity softball team.

Island’s importance to the team has blossomed over the years and this season she is embracing a change on the field. Instead of playing first base, the senior moved over to the other side of the diamond as the Bulldog’s third baseman.

She has taken the new role in stride and is happy to be a team player.

“It was not easy to make,” Island said with a giggle. “There is such a difference. I now have to throw the ball longer. But, there really isn’t too much difference. The angle is kind of the same.”

The switch from the right to left side was a little difficult especially in throwing the longer distance. She also handled the “hot corner” with grace.

“Playing third is a little bit more fast paced,” Island said. “They call it the hot corner for a reason.”

Island’s defense has been strong, but her hitting has really been heating up. In Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Alliance, the senior captain had a big first-inning single that hit the firstbase bag and scored Maddy Wiese with the first run of the game. That was all the runs Gering needed as they rode the 13-strike out pitching of Wiese for the win.

Island said the win Tuesday was important especially since they lost a 9-4 contest to Scottsbluff on Thursday.

“This is a big team win,” Island said. “We fought hard as a team and everyone did their part in the win. It felt good to beat someone that is in our district after losing to someone that was in our district. It is a good win to go into this weekend.”

On Tuesday night, it was the Bulldogs’ defense that played flawless.

“Defensive play was really good,” Island said. “We only had one or maybe two errors tonight while the other day we had like five. When you cut down on your errors, you cut down on the other team’s runs and you win games.”

Island’s bat was huge in the win on Tuesday as she had the first RBI of the night and that was all the support the team needed as Maddy Wiese struck out 13 and limited the Alliance offense to just three hits.

Island, who also plays soccer in the spring, said getting those clutch hits are special in knowing you are doing your job at the plate.

“It is so exciting. I just have that rush that when my teammate scores because she was on there for me, when she scores it is the most exciting thing in the world,” Island said.

Softball is nothing new to Island either. Island has been playing the sport since she was four years old. With all the playing she has done, she can’t believe this is her final year of high school softball.

“It is so exciting [to play varsity for four years],” Island said. “To play with girls my freshman year that were so high caliber and to continue to play at that caliber is really a great experience. To bring the younger girls up to this caliber, too, is what I am so excited about. It will be a ride, but it is my last high school softball season.”

While she will hang up the high school cleats, Island hopes to continue playing in college. She has a few colleges interested and she will see what happens.

“I have some offers out,” Island said. “I haven’t decided yet, but we will see.”

Because it is her last high school softball season, she would like nothing else win a sub-district title and even go to state. Island realizes that it will take a team effort to get that goal of her achieved.

“The key, partly, is strong leadership,” she said. “We have really strong leadership and girls that want to be out there. They want to play hard and I think that helps get everybody motivated and push to their best.”

This weekend, the Gering team will compete in the McCook Tourney and will open with Holdrege and North Platte. Island said they can win, but they need to play defense and hit the ball.

“We have to hit the ball and play solid defense,” she said. “I believe we can do that. Tonight we had the base hits when we needed them. That is what happens in softball. That is all it takes.”

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