She deserves to be named Ms. Softball. Not many people can claim the success that she’s had. It’s pretty remarkable. – Grantsville head coach Heidi Taylor
STANSBURY — Kimbri Herring may shun the spotlight, but when it comes to high-pressure situations, she’s right at home.
“She doesn’t like recognition,” said her mom and first softball coach Kami Herring. “She doesn’t like the spotlight. …But she thrives off of being challenged. She appreciates the challenges in her life.”
Ironically, her ability to excel in tough situations has thrust her into the very spotlight she hopes to avoid. The Stansbury senior led her team to a third consecutive 3A state title with a calm and gritty performance in her final prep season of softball. Her talent and hard work – on and off the softball field – along with her impressive accomplishments earned her the 2015 Ms. Softball award.
“That’s where she shines in those big pressure games,” said Stansbury head coach Bridget Clinton. “That’s where she is at her best.”
Herring’s competitive nature and mental toughness put her in an elite class of athletes. She’s able to capitalize on natural ability thanks to discipline and desire.
“She is just incredible inside and out,” said her mom. “She’s very driven, very goal oriented. She wants success and she sets goals for everything she does.”
Clinton hesitates when asked if the Stallions could have earned that three-peat without Herring in the circle.
“It definitely would have been hard,” Clinton said. “She’s a key component to that. …When she’s out there pitching, the kids know, she’s not going to give up a ton of runs. When she’s on, she’s so tough. …She’s a great pitcher; she hits her spots and keeps you guessing.”
This season Herring finished with a 25-4 record, as she threw 175 complete innings out of the 183 innings Stansbury played. She earned 222 strikeouts including 43 in the five state tournament games. Offensively, she finished with a .349 batting average, a .430 on-base percentage, a .604 slugging percentage and 21 RBIs.
In the five state tournament games, Herring hit three home runs, three doubles and knocked in nine runs.
Even opponents recognize Herring’s ability to deliver under pressure.
“If you ever rattled Kimbri, she never let on,” said Grantsville head coach Heidi Taylor. “I remember a few different instances where we got big hits or earned a couple walks, and then she come back at the next batter like there was no pressure or like it was the top of the inning first batter up. She has great mental toughness and I am excited to see how she performs at the next level.”
The region rivals split this season, but Grantsville ended up earning the region title as Stansbury also split with Bear River, the same team the Stallions would beat twice in the 3A tournament.
“Each time we prepared to play Stansbury, we knew coming in that we were going to have to be very disciplined at the plate and very focused,” Taylor said. “Kimbri is a great pitcher; she has a really good rise ball, but not only that, when her rise wasn’t as successful, she was able to move to other pitches and still successfully keep batters guessing. …She deserves to be named Ms. Softball. Not many people can claim the success that she’s had. It’s pretty remarkable.”
Clinton said one of the reasons Herring is so successful is her mental toughness while the other is her physical strength.
“She’s got exceptional stamina,” Clinton said. “Not every pitcher can throw tons of innings and be successful, be able to be creative with pitches and be able to get kids out. When you face a certain batter 40 times within three years, it’s tough to find ways to get them out.”
Kami Herring said she suggested her daughter pitch when she started playing at age 10 and the team didn’t have a pitcher.
“I was coaching, and so she just started there and did so well,” Kami said. “We eventually got her pitching lessons because she showed such promise.”
It’s one thing to be talented, but as most coaches know, it’s what a player does with raw ability that really determines success.
“She’s always had good velocity and she’s always been really, really strong,” Clinton said. “She’s always been able to throw the ball hard, but over the years, she’s worked on her craft. She’s been able to get more spin on the ball, work on off-speed pitches. She’s always been strong, but every year she’s gotten better.”
Clinton said Herring’s competitive nature seems to contradict her easygoing, quiet personality. Herring will look to continue that competitiveness next season at Snow College.
“You wouldn’t know it to talk to her,” Clinton laughed. "She’s super competitive, but then she’s a really quiet, mellow kid.” Her mom said that while she’s reserved and quiet to strangers, she’s warm and engaging to those she knows. And while the Stallions’ second-place tie in region indicated that a three-peat might be out of the question, it was the thing Herring desired most in her senior season.
“For me, I think it’s hard to win it once,” Kami said. “It’s crazy to win it twice, and it just seems unbelievable to win it three times.”
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