TKA Girls Softball Squad Off To A Strong Start On The Season

The King’s Academy girls varsity softball team. Photo by Derek Chirch

The King’s Academy girls varsity softball team is off to a brilliant start this season. After nine games, TKA’s record is an impressive 8-1. The only blemish is a 2-0 loss to the Eagles from Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on March 14.

It’s a winning team with an array of young players. This year’s squad has one junior, one sophomore, seven freshmen, three eighth graders and two sixth graders.

“My starting second baseman and backup catcher is Emma Thornton, who is a sixth grader with a bright future in the softball world,” TKA head softball coach Kim Needle said.

Another big key to the success of TKA’s softball team has been the pitching prowess of freshman Caroline Duncan.

“She started training and lifting with us in the fall and quickly became an integral part of our success,” said Needle, now in her second year as head coach. “She is always positive and committed to our goal of striving for excellence each day. Her work ethic on the mound is unparalleled.”

To date, Duncan’s pitching record is 6-1 with 51 strikeouts in 35 innings. Her earned run average is an impressive 0.393.

During those eight victories, five of them were shutouts. Along the way, TKA scored 92 runs and gave up just four. Offensively, the top three hitters for TKA are a pair of freshmen (Gracyn Needle and Lily Stone) and a sophomore (Kiersten Zimmerman). Stone is having an outstanding year swinging the bat. She is batting .565 with a .957 slugging percentage. Zimmerman is batting .520, while Needle has scored 13 runs and driven in 19.

“Lily and Kiersten are surpassing their numbers so far this season,” Needle said.

Last year, as an eighth grader, Gracyn Needle was a first-team All-Palm Beach County selection. She batted .622 with a state-leading 54 RBIs.

Defensively, TKA is led by the play of three infielders: Abbey Daniel, who splits her time between third base and second base; Lily Stone, who plays either shortstop or second base; and Gracyn Needle, who plays shortstop or catcher.

According to their coach, those three in the infield have committed just two errors all season between them. As good as the players are performing as a group on the softball diamond, their best days are in the future.

“The strength of my team is that they are young,” said Needle, who played college softball at Nova Southeastern University, which is an NCAA Division II school. “We grow as a team. We are unified and believe in our mission to get better each practice and to glorify God every day.”

TKA’s two assistant coaches this spring are Mike Moore and Bryan Needle.