Kenzie Ausfahl's prep athletic resume at North Callaway High School was the kind of career boys and girls dream about in elementary school.
From the start of her high school sports run until the very end Kenzie Ausfahl managed to excel during almost every sports season and one secret to her success was enjoying what she was doing regardless of the sport she was playing. This former Ladybird absolutely embraced the idea of bonding with her teammates and coaches and because of that the fact she grew into a team leader on the hardwood, as well as on the diamond, was simply the naturally evolution of who she was and where she was going.
Something that was both a blessing and a curse to this naturally gifted hurler was the fact her sister, Madison Ausfahl, had already had a very similar career at North Callaway that culminated with a scholarship to pitch for the softball team at William Woods University. Last year as a junior the elder Ausfahl went 7-14 with a 4.72 earned run average and is now preparing for her final year of eligibility.
For the 2019-20 campaign Kenzie Ausfahl will be joining Madison on campus in Fulton and what lies ahead has just as much potential to go right as it does wrong considering the duo has just one year together.
"Kenzie’s older sister, Madi, is a senior in our program. So I have known Kenzie for many years," saaid WWU head coach Tracy Gastineau. "I have also watched a lot of North Callaway games over the years, as I have had several kids in my program."
Last year Kenzie Ausfahl's high school career came to a close in the Class Two, District Eight, championship game when the Ladybird's were edged out by Father Tolton 1-0 in Columbia on Oct. 13. Prior to that North Callaway had managed to sneak past Hallsville 2-1 on the road on Oct. 11 to start the postseason.
"Because her sister plays for me, Kenzie has a good sense of what our program is about so that is the first step in identifying that 'fit'," Gastineau said. "Obviously her talent and athleticism also make her a good fit on the physical side."
At the same time Kenzie Ausfahl was ending her prep saga under the direction of first-year Ladybird's head coach Mariah McKee, former North Callaway head coach Brandi Thomsen made it all the way to the Class 3 title game with her new team, Oak Grove. A championship wasn't in the cards for her, though, as her Lady Panthers were defeated by Mexico 5-0.
"As a pitcher, Kenzie has good movement and mixes speeds. We look for her to add to our outfield depth and her speed and overall athleticism will help in the outfield," said Gastineau. "Offensively, she is able to do a number of things from the left side of the plate, which is always an advantage."
The team Kenzie Ausfahl will be joining, WWU, went 23-27 overall last year, 12-12 American Midwest Conference. This included losing to No. 9 Vanguard University from California 6-1 in the opening round of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Championships on May 13. The Lady Owls then faced off against William Carey University on May 14 and were defeated 5-0. Both contests took place in Hattiesburg, MS., on Joesph and Nancy Fail Field.
"As is my goal with all of my student-athletes and how I run my program, I hope they are strong, independent thinking women that are ready and able to make a difference in the world," Gastineau said. "As with all of the young ladies that graduate in my program, I always feel a sense of loss. These are my 'kids' and we spend a lot of time together working and growing."
While Gastineau certainly has some ambitious goals for Kenzie Ausfahl, as she does with most young talents that choose WWU, she also knows better than to put the cart before the horse. Instead the entire coaching staff is taking a relaxed approach and seeing what comes back to them.