College softball: Jachim's bat helps carry UVU
Krystin Jachim always has been known to hit it out of the park. It's what led her team at Roy High to a state title in 2009, and it's what earned her a place on a collegiate softball roster.
So when Jachim headed to Utah Valley University after two record-breaking seasons at Salt Lake Community College, the expectations placed on the slugger were sky high.
But none were higher than Jachim's own.
"I was expected to be that power hitter, and I felt some pressure to live up to that," she said. "I came in wanting to step into that role and to be that leader."
So far, so good.
Jachim not only is leading her team in batting average, she's leading the entire conference with an impressive .420 batting average, including 10 doubles, a triple and two home runs.
"I hope to have a senior year like hers, and put my cleats up on a good note," UVU junior Amanda Robinson said.
Jachim's power hitting makes her a perfect match for the No. 3 spot in the hitting lineup, a position she took over for Robinson, who is having a better year hitting on base as a leadoff hitter.
"Her hitting is turned on," Robinson said. "If she can get her defense in line, she could be player of the year. She's just killin' it."
It all comes off a year where Jachim never quite met her potential.
According to Jachim, she struggled with the transition to a new school and Division I competition, though she had played against Division I foes as a Bruin.
"Last year, I was a bit disappointed in the way I played," she said. "It was kind of a tough transition. Now I feel like I'm back to how I normally play."
Now she's hitting even better than normal, which is great for the Wolverines, who have faced plenty of transitions of their own in recent years.
Just two years after UVU earned university status, the Wolverines became a NCAA Division I member, which opened the door to better competition, exposure, recruiting and, of course, championships. The progress has been slow and steady for the UVU softball team, but longtime coach Tood Fairbourne unexpectedly resigned just a week before the first game of the 2013 season. That left assistant coach Rachel Hartgrove as the leader of a team still adjusting to its Division I status.
"We were all taken aback at first," Robinson said.
But the sudden change didn't disrupt the team; rather, the Wolverines became more united than ever.
"Everyone's really much closer this year," Jachim said. "It's like we've pulled together for her, to support her and let her know we still want her to be here with us."
"[Coach Hartgrove] has settled into a bit and felt the girls' support along the way," Robinson said. "She's growing every day as a coach."
Hartgrove is the unexpected leader of an up-and-coming team, led by a solid pitching staff and anchored by a mix of both left-handed slappers and power hitters. That offensive strength, as well as wins over in-state rivals Utah and BYU, has put the Wolverines on pace to earn its first-ever spot in the NCAA Regionals in May.
"It felt so good to get those wins over BYU, especially since we are in the same league," Robinson said. "We've always lived in their shadow."
With just a few weeks left in the regular season, both Jachim and Robinson say improved defense will be the difference between a historic or a mediocre season.
"We have to decide to take a stance on what is acceptable and what is not," Robinson said. "The routine plays need to be made, and we all know that."
"It's the things like letting ground balls through our legs, things we've been doing since we're 10," Jachim said. "If we can get past that, we'll do well. This is one of the better teams UVU has ever had."