Sister act: Bulldog siblings gave softball team stability on the mound
Baldwin High School’s softball relied on two pitchers from the same household this year, as the Bulldogs rotated between junior Kassadie Burton and her freshman sister, Kinley, on the mound.
The two siblings led the Bulldogs to a 7-15 team record. Kinley added three wins after her older sister suffered a concussion during the second game of an April 1 doubleheader and remained on the bench for three weeks.
“We’d basically call a timeout and say, ‘Hey, keep firing and just let the other girls take care of it and we’ll get you (Kinley) out of here‘,” BHS head coach Chad Scoby said, adding that the sisters are his only options at pitcher. “I think she was the happiest one to have Kassadie back.
“She did a great job, though, and Kassadie was her largest supporter. For the freshman, the pressure almost became overwhelming.
“There were some games where it was just so much and I was like, ‘I don’t think I can handle it,'” Kinley said.
As pitchers, Scoby said Kinley throws harder than her sister, but Kassadie flaunts a larger and more accurate pitch arsenal.
Before her little sister started making headlines pitching doubleheaders as her replacement, Kassadie helped the Bulldogs to a 10-7 record last season in her sophomore debut as a pitcher and first baseman. Both girls take after older sister Kelsi, who also pitched for the Bulldogs and played third base until 2010 before joining the coaching staff her senior year.
The Burtons swapped between fifth and sixth in the lineup and rotate between pitcher and first base.
With a week left in the season, right-handed Kassadie was 3-6, with a 3.106 ERA and 14 strikeouts. She batted .333 with 27 at bats.
Younger sister Kinley, who is also right-handed, had a 1.676 ERA with 31 strikeouts and a 4-6 record. She had a .270 average with 63 at bats.
Their dad coaches their competitive team and, for the most part, the girls aren’t more than 30 feet away from each other during softball season.
“Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s brought us together a lot now,” Kassadie said. “We still fight a lot but we’ve gotten better this year.”
For Kinley, her sister’s bottomless motivation can be frustrating at times.
“It’s fun sometimes, but it’s just a lot of each other,” she said. “We play on the same teams so we don’t get away from each other, and then she’s harder on me because she’s my sister and she knows my strengths and my weaknesses.”
The powerhouses are each other's “biggest supporters, but also their biggest antagonist," Scoby said.
“You see them fight just like they would at home, but it happens where it’s the ‘I can pick on my sister but you can’t,'" he said. “And if someone else gets on them then they are there to stick up for one another.
“It’s like they are for each other and they are for the team.”
The elder Burton admitted she can be tough on her but said it was out of love.
“I guess I am harder on her, but it’s only because it’s like, ‘I know you can do better,’” Kassadie said. “But when I got my concussion, the first thing I did was ask, ‘Where’s Kinley?’”