Consistency Delivers: Cassidy Bell
April 19, 2011
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
"Goal number one in recruiting, I wanted to get as far away from home as possible - I achieved that," said Bell. "Goal number two, I wanted them to have my major and they have that here. Goal number three, know I wanted to be comfortable with the coaches and when I visited here I was very comfortable with the coaching staff, I loved the campus. I loved the college town feel so I made my decision like two days after I visited the school."
The 5-7 outfielder looks and plays like a West Coast girl with her long blonde hair and quick feet, but has already made herself well known in the blue and white uniform as an East Coast Nittany Lion.
At the end of her freshman season with Penn State, Bell led the team with a .329 batting average, 167 at-bats, 55 hits, two triples and an on-base percentage of .411. The rookie appeared in all 51 games of the 2010 season as the starting center fielder and was even named the team's Offensive Player of the Year.
That's quite a debut season to live up to, don't you think?
"It was kind of a surprise," said Bell. "You know, I came in not knowing what to expect. I came in just thinking do your best, you're in college now and it's not high school where it's nothing. Coming in, I definitely wasn't expecting to put up those numbers but it happened and I was proud and it kind of sets me up and I'm like crap I want to do better this year than I did last year."
She has nothing to worry about. Currently, Bell leads the team with 38 hits, 124 at-bats, 11 doubles, three triples, five homeruns, 21 runs-batted-in and a slugging percentage of .565. Her offensive power at the plate puts her at the team's second best batting average of .306 this season behind sophomore Kailyn Johnson who is hitting .320.
Still, Bell's numbers are already on pace to be better than her freshman season. She said that this improvement in statistics was triggered by a tweak in her game-plan as a hitter.
"I've worked on my approach more," said Bell. "Last year I was the scrappy, little, just scrunch out a hit and this year I've been working on more extra-base hits, definitely trying to look for my pitch like. Also just going up, I'm a lot more confident at the plate this year I feel like. I know the college pitchers now - I know what to expect and I know how pitchers are going to pitch to me so I try to go up relaxed. It doesn't always happen but you know I just try to go up and just be calm and just do what you can do."
Bell said that she treats each at-bat as its own and tries to fix any problems that may arise as soon as she notices them. She said that sometimes she doesn't change anything, and other times she changes everything.
Beside her consistent presence at the plate, Bell has also grown into the role of a solid center fielder and defensive player on the field for the Nittany Lions. She has only committed one error on the defensive end this season for a fielding percentage of .974. Bell said that she feels more and more comfortable at her position in center and only hopes to keep improving in order to support her teammates.
"I feel like I've stepped up to the position this year," said Bell. "I'm more confident being out there. Last year I was really timid about calling people off for the ball or kind of saying, `Oh you take it,' or `I'll take it.' You know this year I'm just a lot more comfortable."
But when her confidence isn't as consistent, Bell said that sometimes she does rely on some strategic superstition.
"People say I'm superstitious but I'm not," said Bell. "There's a system to my madness. I'm number 21 because of Blackjack, and some people don't know it but, and I don't do it all the time, but I sometimes wear poker chips in my pants pocket if I feel like I need luck. Or, fans don't notice but some girls on the team know this, I change my hair and my hairstyles fairly often during a game if I'm not doing good or if I feel like I'm not doing good."
Bell said that these small adjustments are simply minor in the grand scheme of the game, but can still be important in the outcome of her performance.
"I feel like if you change one thing something else has got to change too," said Bell.
So the next time you're watching the Nittany Lions at Beard Field, look for ribbons tied tightly to a long blonde ponytail and a jersey bearing the number 21. You can be sure that if you follow the lucky number long enough, you'll be impressed to say the least.