Overhand to Underhand

East sophomore right fielder Krystalin Wagner has been playing baseball as a pitcher all of her life. Now, she brings her talents to the softball field.


Cara Raiford

East sophomore and right fielder Krystalin Wagner batting against Simon Kenton ending in a 16-4 Thunderhawk loss.

Macie Manzardo, Staff Contributor


At 14, Krystalin Wagner steps up to bat. Now she hears the familiar snarky comments made by the parents around her. She was the only girl on an all-boys baseball team as pitcher and first basemen. She was used to being the target of the season. Krystalin knew her way around the mound. She played baseball for five different select teams in the span of nine years. Baseball helped her deal with her mom’s passing. She dedicated the sport to her. 

Now softball is the sport that takes over for the East sophomore and varsity right fielder in her high school career. She plans to do it for those who never believed in her. Krystalin’s dad Michael Kelley, believes that baseball helped her focus on her competitive nature and kept her from drowning in sorrow after her mom’s death. 

“It helped that she had a great natural talent,” Kelley told Spark. “Watching her excel at first base and pitching kinda blew me away. It seems that the transition to softball has helped even more. She has even remained an honor roll student during all that.”

Krystalin did not quit baseball by choice, but because of the parents and clubs around her protesting and petitioning to get her kicked off the team. They did not like how a girl was playing on a team full of boys, even though Krystalin worked her hardest to earn the spot.

“Them kicking me off made me upset, because those parents seemed to support me for the years we were on the same team together,” Wagner told Spark, who has seven putouts (PO) this season. “I was worried I would not have time to get on another team but I did.” 

The transition from baseball to softball this season is still new to Wagner. According to https://olympicca.com, one major difference that Wagner has to adapt to is the 30-foot difference in field sizes. Baseball is 90 feet in between bases and softball only being 60 feet. 

“I am still transitioning a little bit and adjusting to the hitting and playing outfield mostly,” Krystalin says, following the Hawks’ 7-6 victory over top ranked Oak Hills. “It has been mostly good and the girls are very supportive.” 

Halina Schulte, a junior who plays starting short-stop for varsity, has been there for Wagner and is becoming a big part of her life. She has helped Wagner adapt to the small tips and tricks for the game. 

“I think that Krystalin has done a good job adding to our team chemistry,” Shulte told Spark who has had 60 runs batted in (RBIs) this season. “She has become one of my closest friends as well.” 

Ella Bauman, a senior second-basemen starter for varsity, describes Wagner’s working style as “very driven and always looking to be the best she can.” 

“She definitely is one of the most hard-working players on the team,” Bauman, who had a batting average of .289 this season, told Spark. “She’s always there to pick someone up and has a very lively personality. You can never be around her without a smile and a laugh.”

Not only do her new teammates love Wagner and her hard working habits, but also her former baseball coach for the Pisgah Youth Organization (PYO) Patriots Rodney Dearwester liked her intensely focused style of play, too. Dearwester tried out for the Cincinnati Reds, but blew out his arm in the second try-out. Dearwester and Wagner have a really tight bond due to the fact that he coached her for almost two years. PYO Patriots is a baseball organization that is comprised of multiple ages ranging from 14-16 years old. 

“Krystalin was one of the hardest workers I know and her ability to stay positive was inspiring,” Dearwester told Spark. “[Wagner] made it an absolute honor to watch her play. Every time she was on the mound, she would receive so many compliments on how amazing a pitcher she was. She is definitely a superstar in my book.

Throughout Wagner’s time being coached by Dearwester, she formed a bond with his son Landon Dearwester. Landon has been there for Wagner when her mom passed away two years ago. The two of them have formed a very close bond that helped Wagner’s through tough times. 

“She always seeks for the positives and keeps the team positive,” Landon told Spark. “She helped me personally by helping me stay positive, helping me be more positive about everything, and helped me become a better player and person.” 

East softball coach Kelley Haiber, who is in his second year as an East coach, is looking forward to where his current season will go with a new addition to his team. Haiber stated that Wagner has already made a huge impact on the team and is very lucky he could steal her from baseball. 

“When she is at softball, she is there to be at softball. All business,” Haiber told Spark. “I think she has picked up things so fast. I really thought we would have to teach her small nuances on junior varsity (JV), but she just worked at it and grasped it quickly. I cannot wait to see how good she will become as a player. She is already one of the most popular players in the program, no one does not love her.” 

Wagner is looking forward to the relationships she can hopefully keep after her high school years. She states that she is getting comfortable with her new team and sharing about her mom’s passing allows her to be more vulnerable and connect with her teammates. 

“Some of the girls I let in on things that I have gone through with my family like my mom dying and other stuff along those lines,” Wagners, who has a .778 fielding percentage (FP) this season, says.  “They are always supportive and help me through my problems. I am looking forward to us all getting better and having some winning seasons the next couple of years for sure.”