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Ohio's Katie Yun runs to first during Ohio's game against Pittsburgh on March 27. The Bobcats beat the Panthers 6-1. (FILE)

Katie Yun: Ohio's quiet but talented shortstop

Katie Yun has always been more of the quiet type. 

Off the field, she keeps to herself for the most part, minus her small circle of friends and supporters on campus, and she seldom speaks, if at all.

Yun’s introverted personality is her everyday demeanor, but when she steps onto the turf field at Walter Fieldhouse for practice or onto the reddish-brown infield at Ohio Softball Field, that introvert masqueraded-self vanishes.

She can be quiet at first, but when the time arrives, the freshman shortstop’s voice booms around the diamond like a pinball hitting off the rafters.

That is who she is; that is how she’s always been.

In her first year for the Bobcats, the North Canton native has exceeded the expectations that were laid out from the time she was recruited, signed her letter of intent and after her first fall practice had ended.

To her upperclassmen teammates, she was a freshman merely because it’s her first year.

“I was just really impressed by Katie’s demeanor and the way that she carried herself,” Taylor Saxton, second baseman and team captain, said. “The way she just stepped into her role at shortstop has been really big for the team.”

Saxton, a redshirt senior, leads an infield with Yun, the youngest player on the team, that also has junior Alex Day at third. Senior Mikayla Cooper rounds out the aged infield at first.

Despite her freshman status, it would appear to the common spectator that Ohio’s infield contains just juniors and seniors. But grounders and pop flies routinely come Yun’s way, and the end result at minimum is an out. At best, it’s a two-out play with a force out somewhere else on the field.

A raw, natural talent, Yun has boasted incredible numbers in year one thus far including a .303 batting average, 16 RBIs, 21 runs, four home runs and two stolen bases. At more than half way through the season, Yun’s talent continues to blossom.

“I just try to be the best I can be,” Yun said. “I know I can perform, and I don’t expect anything less.”

Humbled confidence is one of Yun’s notable traits, and the transition from the high school game to college has been easy. It’s the off-field transition where she has struggled.

“High school was a lot easier in terms of balancing school and softball,” Yun said. “It’s been hard, but the coaches and the players have made it a lot easier than if I were a normal student.”

Yun’s on- and off-field presence was one of the first qualities that coach Jodi Hermanek sought in the freshman shortstop during the recruiting process.

“Oh, we got her early and we were excited about it because she’s a great talent,” Hermanek said. “The thing about Katie is that she’s so cool and blase; she just goes out there and plays.”

Despite recruiting the northeast Ohio shortstop and being aware of her talents, Hermanek herself has been surprised at just how quickly Yun’s stock for the Bobcats has grown.

Slated to be a five or six spot in the batting order, Yun has slugged her way into the three-hole behind Cooper and Day.

“She has really come through with some awesome offensive delivery,” Hermanek said.

One of Yun’s best offensive deliveries came early in the year at the James Madison University Invitational in Ohio’s game against the host school.

Down 5-1 in the top of the fifth inning, Yun blasted a home run into left center that led to an offensive surge for the rest of the game. Ohio eventually came back and won 9-7.

It is performances like that that have helped solidify Yun’s place in the starting nine. It’s performances like that that have earned her the trust of Hermanek and her experienced infield to make the right calls and to make the right plays. It’s performances like that that got Yun to Ohio in the first place.

But most of all, it’s performances like that that have allowed the introvert from North Canton to break out of her shell and let some of her true colors shine.

Described as “low-key funny” by Hermanek, Yun’s personality off the field has flourished because of her on-the-field personality.

A perfect storm of mix-and-match personalities has been concocted, and at 20-13, 8-1 Mid-American Conference, it’s easy to see why Ohio has had the success it has enjoyed so far, all the while knowing there’s still room to improve.

And as for Yun, that quiet, “low-key funny" shortstop will only continue to grow as well.


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