Sometimes an extra year is all it takes. And in Karissa Kross’ case, the extra year was a perfect ending to her softball career at King’s College.
A 2009 graduate of Wyoming Area, Kross finished her senior season with nine wins, tied for the most on the roster. She delivered a 3.41 ERA, while limiting opponents to a .251 batting average. She led the team in strikeouts and fired six complete games.
Originally a Misericordia University player, Kross transferred to King’s and put in three solid years for the Monarchs. Due to a change in her major, Kross gained an extra year of eligibility. That was this season, and she didn’t let it go to waste.
“I think this year was completely different than any other year,” she said. “It was the first year I became extremely close on and off the field with my teammates. There was no doubt they had my back and I was really confident and went into each game thinking I was going to win it. It gave me the extra boost.”
Last fall, Kross injured herself during a pickup basketball game with the softball team. Kross had surgery on her foot, and put in a rigorous off season to get ready for the circle this season.
“I was a little nervous coming into the season,” she said. “I busted my butt to get back in shape and catch up to everyone. I’m proud of myself and how I did with the situation that I was in. It was hard going in with all the set backs.”
But her performance on the field wasn’t affected.
Kross, who is part of a five-pitcher rotation at King’s, turned in a solid season, culminating with one of her best performances of her career against FDU-Forham in the opening round of the Freedom Conference tournament.
In that game, Kross took over. The senior fired a complete-game two hitter and posted an 8-1 win over the No. 3 seed. She finished with seven strikeouts. She didn’t think she pitched to well until she spoke with her dad following her impressive outing.
“I actually had no idea that I even did that,” she said of the two-hitter. “I didn’t think I did as good as I wanted to until my dad told me I only allowed two hits in a playoff game.”
That’s when Kross realized how far she’s come, and that this was a very special career.
“I came to terms and really got to the point where I was satisfied with softball,” she said. “Starting at six-years-old, it’s something to strive to reach for.”
In the Freedom Conference Championship game last week, No. 1 seed Manhattanville College broke open a 4-4 game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Valiants posted a 7-4 win over King’s.
In that game, Kross pitched good enough for a no decision - she went four innings, giving up six hits and four runs. The Valiants used three runs in the sixth to cop the conference title.
In the second round, King’s fell to the Valiants, 7-6, forcing the Monarchs to battle back through the losers bracket in the double-elimination tournament.
King’s beat Misericordia to stay alive for title contention with Kross getting the day off. Fellow pitcher Brittany Haight pitched seven innings, giving up one run in the win.
Kross has had the pleasure to play under one of the best coaches in Division 3: Lisa Gigliello. Gigliello is a Pittston Area graduate and copped the 500-win plateau last season as King’s swept a doubleheader against Keystone College. Kross was the winning pitcher in one of those wins.
“It was completely different (playing under Gigliello),” she said. “I never had better coaching in my life. She can be your friend when you need it. But she can put you into your place as well.”
During her career at King’s College, Kross did a little more than fire a yellow softball at opposing hitters. She is a two-time Middle Atlantic Conference All-Academic team selection in 2012 and 2013.
Kross will be graduating today with her Bachelor’s in Mass Communications. She plans on pursuing a career in graphic design and advertising. But for now, she’s looking forward to today’s commencement, and the excitement that comes with it.
“It’s crazy, especially this week,” she said. “It felt like it was never going to come. At some points I wanted it to be here and now it’s different because I gained so many friends that have become sisters. It’s bittersweet where we are going from here.”