Nevada softball sophomore Kendall Fritz was in the middle of a breakout season when the campaign was cut short due to the coronavirus. In the last month of action before the season was canceled, Fritz had posted a 1.97 ERA and was becoming the ace pitcher the Wolf Pack had been looking for since it last made an NCAA Regional in 2009. Nevada started this season slow, losing its first six games, before steadying the ship heading into what was supposed to be the start of conference play (it was 9-6 before a weekend series with UNLV, which was canceled as the Wolf Pack boarded its bus). Fritz was a big reason behind the team's improvement and had a career-best effort against Oregon State, holding the Pac-12 Beavers scoreless in a 1-0, eight-inning complete-game shutout victory while recording a career-best 12 strikeouts.
For Fritz's effort prior to the season being canceled, she is Nevada Sports Net's Wolf Pack Athlete of the Month for March, an honor presented in partnership with Champion Chevrolet. You can watch our full interview with Frtiz below, or check out our Q&A with the star pitcher.
Q&A with Kendall Fritz
On how she's coping with self isolation back home in Frisco, Texas
Kendall Fritz: "Things are going good. I'm just trying to build a new routine here. Obviously it is a lot different than what I was used to, but I'm trying to make the best out of the situation."
On learning the series with UNLV was canceled while getting on the bus to go to Vegas
KF: "Honestly, that morning I kind of had a weird feeling knowing what was going on in the world and hearing Coach (Josh Taylor) talk at practice. When I got there, I thought, 'If we don't get on this bus right now, I'm going to be so sad.' I got my stuff out and he said, 'It's not looking good.' It was crazy. I was in shock because you don't believe that. You prepare forever and you're ready to go start conference and it's, 'We're not going.' We were, just, 'Well, OK.'"
On being told the season was canceled and not just suspended
KF: "Once we heard they weren't allowing fans to go to March Madness, it wasn't going to be looking good for us. Once they said 'suspended,' I knew it was going to be worse than what we had anticipated."
On the improvements she had made in her sophomore season
KF: "I think the biggest difference between my freshman and sophomore year is your freshman year you're really adjusting to college life and what it's like to play at that level. The game is the same but just being comfortable with my teammates and having a year of experience under my belt made a world of difference for me."
On what she's learned from pitching coach and former All-American Brianne Durfee (formerly McGowan)
KF: "Coach B is awesome. She's kind of a quiet leader. She's not somebody who is super aggressive or will yell and get on you. She's more about talking it through in the bullpen and she's just so positive. As a pitcher, you're usually pretty hard on yourself, so Coach B is always a positive ear and she's always somebody I can talk to and get good advice from. It's really cool to have learned under her for the last couple of years."
On whether Durfee, a four-time state champ at Wooster, could still bring it in the circle
KF: "For sure. Coach B still has it. She says, 'Oh, I haven't pitched in forever,' but you can tell she still has that competitive edge and it's fun to see her throw BP. She's awesome. She's legit, and she was super good in high school and college. She's still competitive. She won't let you have it easy. That's for sure."
On why she ended up picking Nevada for college
KF: "Honestly, I wasn't coming here at first. I got hurt in high school and was committed to Arkansas and de-committed and was just looking for something different. I had never been to Nevada before except for Vegas. I had played travel ball in California. I figured, 'I want to go on a visit there.' They were super interested in me, so I came and went to Lake Tahoe and said, 'This place is awesome!' I just love the people here and how different it was from what I was used to. That made me want to go there because it was so different and something new and I liked the challenge of going to other side of the country and playing ball somewhere else."
On her first impressions of the university
KF: "What really struck me was all the buildings looked so new and I thought, 'Is this really a college campus?' You go to a lot of schools and it's old architecture and that's awesome, but I was, like, 'Wow. This place is awesome. The campus is just beautiful.' I like how it had a small-town feel but there are still a bunch of people and you still have downtown and the whole city, so I liked the atmosphere it had."
On her most memorable moment at Nevada so far
KF: "It would probably be Hawaii, one of our trips this year. That was really fun. We had an extra day just to hang out with our coaches and teammates not doing softball stuff and just being together as a family. That was really fun."
On how she's kept in touch with her teammates during this period
KF: "It's pretty crazy you go from spending literally every second together on the road and at practice and we're together all the time to and we're all super close and best friends. It's been weird not seeing them every day, but we have a group Snapchat and Coach T has us do team meetings twice a week on Zoom. It's good to see everybody's face and what everybody's doing, so that's good."
On looking back on the last game of the season (not knowing it was the last game of the season)
KF: "I actually was thinking about that the other day, and I did not think that'd be the last time we'd play. Every time I step on the field I try to make sure I play like it's my last. You never want to take anything for granted because you never know what could happen. It's cool I did get to pitch that last game and we did get to play at home. Usually we wouldn't have gotten to play at home until conference, so it was nice we got to open up at home and we actually got those games on our field because we probably wouldn't have played on our field otherwise."
On how she is filling her new-found free time
KF: "Honestly, I've been sleeping a lot. That's something I usually don't get to do. I'm just spending time with my family and going on walks with my dad and my dog and that's something I haven't been able to do in forever. Working out with my mom, so that's cool, and really just spending time with my family and soaking up being home."
On finishing the academic semester with online classes
KF: "It is extremely weird. I'm somebody who really likes a routine and I love walking campus, so it's kind of sad I don't get to do that, but you just make the best of whatever is thrown at you. If it's online classes, so be it. It's nice because you can do your classes whenever and you have free time, but you definitely have to be more disciplined because with all the free time, you have to make time for it even though you don't want to."
On what it'd mean to play with the seniors for another year (the NCAA said Monday all spring sport athletes will get one more year of eligibility)
KF: "I love our senior class and I'm really close to them, so I think it'd be awesome if we got another year together. I think if they didn't get their year back, it'd be a weird thing. It's unfinished, and I don't like that as somebody who is a perfectionist. I think they deserve a full year. Honestly, all of us deserve a year back. They need to go out better. They need to go out on a better note, and I think that'd be awesome for them."
On what she wants to work on this offseason
KF: "The biggest thing I want to work on is staying consistent and not getting too frustrated in my bullpens. Just putting in the work. Sometimes I get really frustrated if I don't see the results right away. Something I want to work on is taking it easy and not getting too frustrated and staying consistent with my bullpens. You put in the work and you get quality results."
On her overall impressions of the 2020 season
KF: "I was having a lot of fun and I felt like I had a lot to give and I was just getting started, so it was kind of sad to see it end so abruptly, but I'm glad I did get to pitch the games I did and I did get to contribute how I did. It was so fun. Our defense really stepped up and had been lights out some games. It was fun to see we were coming along and building that chemistry and we were getting there. We started out rough, but it was good to see we were up and coming."