FCS Graduate Lauren Kierpa Moves Back into Starting Pitcher Role for Covenant College's Softball Team
After a season as a closer, Fellowship Christian School graduate Lauren Kierpa moved back into a starting pitcher role for the Covenant College softball squad in 2020.
She made seven appearances on the mound for the Lady Scots, including four starts. Kierpa went 1-3 and threw 17.1 innings in 2020 for the 2-10 Covenant team.
Kierpa, who tied her career high with five strikeouts and threw 4 1/3 innings as a starter to earn the win on Feb. 29 against Mary Baldwin, started mostly during her FCS and travel ball career.
"I went back to where I started," Kierpa said. "As a team, we had a slow start to the season. We had a hard non-conference schedule. We were starting to play better as we headed into the conference schedule, but then we were playing in Rome [against Berry College] when we heard the season was being called off [due to COVID-19]. We were actually in the middle of a game."
Covenant plays in the USA South Athletic Conference.
The NCAA granted the seniors on the Covenant roster another season, but Kierpa said they decided not to come back for another year of Division III collegiate softball.
"We brought in a lot of freshman [for the 2021 season]," Kierpa said. "My rising junior class has about 7-8 players and we should have 3-4 seniors on the team too. We're getting a new coach, but we're very optimistic."
The 5-foot-six right-hander helped Covenant finish 11-24 in 2019, her freshman campaign.
"It was quite different," Kierpa explained about moving from starter to closer. "It was more about endurance as a starting pitcher. I pitched 2-3 days a week as a closer, but had a lot less innings. I had to build my endurance back up last season. It was an adjustment to go back to starting, but I want to improve my ERA and other stats next season."
Kierpa will have her second coach in three years with the Lady Scots program, but she's taking it in stride.
"The team's culture and talent level could be much different this year," Kierpa said. "Our coach resigned, and we have been on several Zoom chats with potential coaches. It'll be my second coach at Covenant. But we believe the change will help us come together better as a team. We are being positive."
The team is set to go back to Covenant in August, and begin preparing for the 2021 season that's expected to begin with games in February 2021.
The 2018 FCS graduate has truly found a home in Lookout Mountain, Ga., and Covenant.
"I really love Covenant," Kierpa said. "I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I fell in love with the school. I love the professors. They are easy to talk to about academics, Christianity and life."
Kierpa is an English major with minors in business and Spanish at Covenant.
As a freshman, Kierpa shared the team-lead with 21 appearances, including just four starts. She went 2-2 and topped the Lady Scots with a 4.58 ERA and logged 52 innings in 2019. During that season, Kierpa set a career high with 6 2/3 innings pitched against Birmingham Southern on March 26, 2019. She fanned a career-best five batters versus Berea on March 20, 2019.
Kierpa's brother Grant is also a FCS graduate and former athlete at Covenant. He played two seasons of baseball for the Scots from 2016-17.
(Photos courtesy of Covenant College)