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Robinson surprises herself by signing with Columbia College

Posted: April 24, 2012 1:48 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2012 5:00 a.m.

NORTH CENTRAL HIGH SENIOR Cassady Robinson is joined by her mother, Glenda Robinson, and NC and Coliumbia College benfector Leonard Price at the table as she signed her national letter-of-intent to continue her academic and softball pursuits at Columbia College. Standing, from left, are Columbia College softball coach James Morrison, NC head softball coach Mike Grigsby, former NC softball coach Kat Small, Robinson's father, Tommy Robinson, NC guidance counselor Vincent Smith, NC athletic director Louis Clyburn and NC guidance counselor Amy Jenkins.

Growing up, Cassady Robinson played in a T-ball baseball league with boys. She also threw the football around with the guys, many of whom she considers some of her closest friends. So, when it came time to make her choice of a college, the North Central High School senior chose … You guessed it, Columbia College.
As she sat behind a table inside NC’s Leonard Price Theater last Monday to sign an academic/athletic scholarship with the all-girls college, Robinson laughed while telling those gathered for the occasion she never would have imagined she would be Columbia College-bound.
“I just never saw myself going to an all-girls school because most of my friends in high school have been guys; just because I get along with them better than girls,” she said with a smile while explaining her earlier comment. “I figured that I’m going to college, not for guys, but to get my education.”
As well as excelling in the classroom at North Central, Robinson was a two-sport standout. In addition to being the top pitcher for the Lady Knights in the spring, she was also a starter for the school’s volleyball team in the fall.
Volleyball was never a factor when it came time to pick a sport to play in college. In fact, Robinson said, she played the sport to get her ready for softball workouts in the winter leading up to the season itself.
“Honestly, volleyball was fun and everything, but I did it to stay in shape for softball, because softball has always been my passion,” she said. “Softball means going outdoors for me and I’d rather be outside than inside.”
Columbia College softball coach James Morrison, who was on hand for the signing ceremony, was tipped off as to Robinson’s talents by former NC softball coach, Kat Small, who guided the Lady Knights’ program in Robinson’s sophomore and junior seasons. It was Small whom Robinson credited with helping her develop into a pitcher.
Small saw the untapped talent in Robinson’s right arm and the pair went to work on fine-tuning things during the season and moreso, in the off-seasons. From her sophomore season to the end of her senior campaign, Robinson’s fastball went from 45 miles per hour to now being in the 60-mile-per-hour range.
“First of all, I saw a very hard-working young lady,” Small said of her former player’s development. “While she was not as progressed as I would have liked for her to have been as a sophomore, we worked nights after practice and in the first year, she quickly improved her speed by almost 10 miles per hour after I worked with her. She made huge improvements, but working every day and working constantly, is what got her here.
“We worked on her basic pitching mechanics; constantly pushing her release and those types of things. She was also working in the weight room during the off-season which got her legs and her arms stronger, which all played a part in this, too.”
“Over the past years, I’ve made improvement in my speed,” Robinson said. “I’ve learned a changeup, curveball, rise ball but my best pitch is probably my fastball ... and my changeup.”
The beneficiary of Small’s working with Robinson will be Morrison, who is glad he took the former NC coach up on her advice to take a long look at her pitcher. Soon thereafter, the Koalas’ head coach was getting on touch with Robinson and her parents as the recruiting process heated up. It ended with last week’s signing.
 “Cassady is the complete student-athlete that Columbia College looks for,” Morrison said. “When Coach Small contacted me, I was very excited because she’s a pitcher and, you can never have enough pitchers. And at Columbia College, as you know, we are an academic school. Being an academic school, we have to have that combination of student-athlete; we need them both to be good.
“We’re just extremely happy that Cassady will be playing at the Sutton Softball Field and going to the Leonard Price Pavilion to go to her locker room. With Mr. Price’s support and with Cassady’s parents, we’re going to be extremely happy to have her for four years.”
Price, owner of North Camden Plantation, is a staunch and generous supporter of both North Central High School and Columbia College academics and athletics.
When Robinson first started considering Columbia College, she did so with some apprehension. But after a trip to campus, followed by more visits, she felt more and more at home. In the end, Columbia College won out over USC-Lancaster.
“When I went to Columbia College, with my mom and dad, deep-down inside, it just felt really right. After I started looking at everything, it felt perfect,” Robinson said.
“I made my decision a long time ago and I’m still happy with it. I’ve been there four or five times and I love it every time that I go there. I felt that (CC) was a lot like North Central because of the small class sizes; you get 1-on-1 attention from the teachers. It was just the perfect fit for me.”
What Columbia College is getting besides primarily a pitcher is a player that can play in the field and can handle the bat, as well. Small said Robinson is a “wonderful outfielder with a strong bat.”
That sentiment was echoed by Robinson’s current coach, Mike Grigsby. Two days before the start of softball practice for the 2012 season, NC officials approached the school’s former head baseball coach to see if he would take over the softball team.
Upon accepting the post, Grigsby knew he had a lot of catching up to do. He said he was lucky to someone like Robinson and other veterans to help bring him up to speed for a team which opens class A state playoff action at Fox Creek on Thursday.
“First of all, she was a senior who brought a lot of leadership. I came in late and without our three seniors, it might have been rough,” Grigsby said. “Cassady jumped in there and helped me right away and brought me up to speed. And the things that I changed, she accepted right away. It’s been a treat to have her for the one year that I have been out there with her.”
As she prepares to play college softball, Robinson said she will become a better pitcher and player due to being involved strictly with softball the entire year. She said she will have to make adjustments to playing on a higher level.
“In our league, we face good teams but they are not like college teams will be,” she said of the difference between high school and college softball. “I’m sure that I’m going to learn a lot more than I did in high school as when to throw a certain pitch, when to hit a certain pitch and where to hit it and who not to pitch to.”
Robinson pitched all but one game for the Lady Knights while also batting cleanup. She has NC’s lone home run of the season while leading the team in home runs. But it is when she toes the pitching rubber that Robinson did most of her damage. And in softball, a team’s success starts on the mound and goes from there.
Grigsby said the safety net which was Cassady Robinson made his first go ‘round in softball one which was less stressful than it could have been without her.
“Every softball team needs to have a pitcher like her,” Grigsby said. “She’s pitched every game except for one when she was hurt. When she’s on and throwing well, we’re in the game. If it hadn’t have been for a few games where we made some errors, she might be undefeated now. She’s a big reason why we have gotten better as the season has gone on.”


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