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Feb. 28, 2013

Freshman stands out, shuts out competition

By Patrick Elder

Susan KnightNot many can say they ever played collegiate sports. Even fewer can say they had a significant role in helping their team win. Fewer still can claim they made contributions as a freshman on the team.

Susan Knight is practically in a league of her own, however. After making four appearances in the Cleveland State University softball team’s opening homestand and recording three wins, Knight was named the Horizon League Player of the Week by College Sports Madness, as well as the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week by the Horizon League itself.

“I really wasn’t expecting anything, so it kind of surprised me,” Knight said. “I hoped I’d get an award this soon, but I definitely wasn’t expecting anything. I think that by my senior year I should be confident in earning honors like this, but so far I’ve mostly been hoping.”

On Saturday, while making her first-ever starting pitching assignment, Knight threw a complete game shutout, giving up only three hits and striking out seven en route to a 3-0 Cleveland State victory over Bucknell. She followed up that performance by leading the Vikings to two more victories, a 6-2 eight-inning affair over Bucknell again, and a 7-2 win over Canisius.

Knight struck out 11 batters and gave up only 20 hits and three earned runs in her four appearances over the weekend homestand, giving her a miniscule 0.84 ERA.

Hailing from Edison, Knight grew up in a baseball family, and has been playing softball for most of her life.

Head Coach Angie Nicholson sold Knight on Cleveland State almost immediately.
“The summer of my sophomore year, Coach saw me play at one of my summer tournaments,” Knight said. “I came in that fall and committed then.”

Nicholson knew Knight would be special as soon as she saw her first pitch.

“She played for a former player of mine,” Nicholson said. “She said I had to come check this girl out. She told me this girl pitched, hit, ran, did everything. She was just an impressive athlete and a hard-nosed kid.”

“Then I saw her pitch and I was like, ‘Wow.’ She had incredible movement on her ball. Right there I fell in love with her.”

In a sport where individual success begets team success, Knight’s rapid development is a portent of great things for the Viking softball team.

“The season started off not as we expected, but it’s gotten a lot better,” Knight said. “We started to come together during the tournament we had. I’m feeling confident with the team we have.”

Knight should be feeling confident, considering that her shutout of Bucknell likely set the tone for the Vikings for the rest of the tournament, which saw them win three out of four games. The one loss came in the only game Knight wasn’t the starting pitcher. This comes after the Vikings started the season 0-5 after their first weekend tournament, during which Knight was experiencing some back issues, limiting her playing time.

“My team grew so much from one tournament to the next,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson sees great things in Knight’s future.

“Just from watching her in practice we knew she would be a special player,” Nicholson said. “Did I think it was going to come right away? You hope for it, but you never expect it for a freshman. But from watching her play, you’d never in a million years suspect she was a freshman.

“She’s a very mature young lady. Most of all, she’s fearless and a go-getter. That’s what makes her so special.”