Photo provided/Jim Monty
Kylee Cassavaugh, with green batting helmet, stands with teammates after breaking the NYSPHSAA record for most stolen bases in a career. The senior currently sits at 132 over her five year tenure with the Lions.
Stealing may be wrong in the real world, but Elizabethtown-Lewis senior shortstop Kylee Cassavaugh has made a name for herself thanks to her softball career of pilfering bases off the opposition.
A combination of speed and instincts reached its climax April 19, when Cassavaugh stole a pair of bases against Minerva/Newcomb, putting her alone in first on the list of best swipers in the state.
“I am extremely excited to have accomplished this,” Cassavaugh said. “I have been waiting for the day when I didn’t have to think about reaching the record anymore. Now I can just go out and add to it.”
Cassavaugh, who entered the game tied with Caitlin Attfield, a 2012 graduate of Niagara Wheatfield with 128 career stolen bases, stole second base against the Lady Mountaineers to claim the record for herself, following it up with a swipe of third to give her a total of 130 career steals. She added two more against Schroon Lake April 22.
“The biggest thing is her first step,” Lions head coach Jim Monty said. “By the time she hits her second step, she is already at full speed.”
“Knowing when to run in different situations is helpful,” Cassavaugh said. “I think that anyone can steal a base if they know when to go. That knowledge came from the coaches and through playing during the first couple of years. Now I just look for them to tell me when.”
Cassavaugh started her varsity softball career as an eighth grader, playing for Monty.
“When she started, she was not as strong of a hitter as she is now, but she was able to get on base a lot and we took advantage of that,” Monty said.
Cassavaugh stole 21 bases her first season on varsity and followed that up with 32 during her freshman year, a season that ranks as the seventh-highest total all time.
In her junior year, Cassavaugh increased her total to 41 steals, which ranks only behind the 56 steals by Tappan Zee’s Brittni Alexander in 2008 for single season records.
Last season, she stole 28 bases as her role on the team changed into a run producer.
“As she has improved her hitting, we have moved her into the third spot in the batting order and she is now in a position where we are asking her to drive in runs instead of setting the table,” Monty said.
Cassavaugh said that she and Monty started to take notice of the potential to break the record last season as the two were looking through the state record books.
“That is when I knew I was actually doing something,” she said. “It is definitely something that I thought I would be doing.”
“I thought it would be pretty big because sometimes, Section VII gets overlooked when it comes to things like this,” Monty said. “We are only playing 12-14 games each season, and we are lucky to even get out on the field by opening day while other teams get the full 20-game schedule in.”
During the 2012 season, Cassavaugh struck up a social media friendship with Attfield.
“I added her on Facebook as a friend, and we had the chance to talk a little and talk about the chase for the record,” she said.
Cassavaugh also sits in second place in the NYSPHSAA record books for most steals in a game, recording six swipes in a game on April 13, 2011. The 2011 season was a busy one for the Lady Lions on the basepaths, as Emily Morris recorded the 16th highest single season steal total with 27 and Alyssa Sullivan had 25, good for 18th.
Other local athletes whose names are listed in the NYSPHSAA softball state record book are:
•Andrea LeVien: The 2012 ELCS graduate is tied for seventh place for most runs batted in for a single season, recording 48 RBIs in 2012. She is also tied for second place for most hits in a single game with six on May 2, 2011. The only person ahead of that total is...
•Randi Swires: The Willsboro graduate connected for seven hits on May 16, 2008, against Westport, which still stands as the most hits in a single game in the NYSPHSAA record book.
Swires said that when she broke the record, the person who made her aware of it was then Westport coach Monty.
"He told me before the inning not to mess it up," Swires said earlier this week. "I didn't even know what people were talking about when they said I was 7-for-7. After the game, coach Monty said he was pretty sure I had just set a state record."
In baseball, Westport graduate Kevin Russell tied for the most strikeouts recorded in a seven-inning game by a pitcher, fanning 22 in 2011.