Freshman Kaitlyn Bean leads softball team while adjusting to college life


Freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Bean battles against Northern Illinois batters April 19 at Margo Jonker Stadium.

One by one, the Central Michigan softball players walked out of the team meeting room and were advancing toward the field at Margo Jonker Stadium to begin practice April 24. 

One of the last players out was freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Bean. 

The right-hander from Oxford, Michigan carried an unassuming presence; she appeared joyful – displayed by her constant smile. 

Bean, who had a successful high school career as a four-year letter winner and was named multiple times to the Oakland Press top 50 players, ranking as high as 11, is now in the waning weeks of her freshman year at CMU. 

Transitioning to the college level is not always easy, but Bean has done well to make her mark both on and off the field. Her first semester was consumed with joining academics and athletics at the highest level.

Her hard work paid off, as she is one of the many softball student-athletes with a 3.5-grade point average or higher. She credits her senior teammates for helping her adjust. 

“On the field, I just feel them all behind me and off the field, they help me in every single way that they can,” Bean said. “They’re great people and I am really going to miss them.” 

Talking to her or looking at her season stat line, you would never guess that Bean is only a freshman. She leads the Chippewas in most pitching statistics including earned runs allowed, innings pitched, walks and hits per innings pitched and batting average against.

Although her numbers this year are top-notch, Bean knows she has more to give as she continues to develop to the college lifestyle. Her introductory season has given her confidence that she can build off of in the coming years.

“I think it proves that if I get more pitches every year I can be more successful,” Bean said. 

Each statement she made came off very humble. She was quick to turn attention toward her teammates and offer praise for their hard work.

However, don’t let her team-first attitude fool you. Bean certainly has the competitive drive needed to thrive as a student-athlete. That drive within her is part of the reason CMU coach Margo Jonker sees a bright future ahead for Bean. 

“Is she gonna be good,” Jonker said. “I think she is gonna be very good because she has such a competitive spirit and such a great heart and great work ethic.” 

The work ethic she possesses is driven by pure love for the game. Softball has been a big part of her life, and it's a platform she uses to prepare for other situations in life. 

“I just love it so much,” Bean said. “It’s more than a game to me. It’s taught me everything I know up to this point. I feel confident on the field and I think that translates to my actual life.” 

Jonker has found a way to help further that confidence in Bean and get the most out of her. The two have developed a unique relationship and understanding in her first year that goes beyond the diamond. 

“Me and coach Jonker have a really good relationship,” Bean said. “I talk to her really frequently and she’s taught me so much about myself and to be confident in what I do. It’s more than just pitching with her.” 

When Jonker was asked about the relationship, she said there's a resemblance to her younger self in Bean.

“She’s a really good kid, she’s quiet and I can relate to that,” Jonker said. “I can understand a little bit what she’s like as a pitcher because I was a little bit like that.” 

For now, Bean is enjoying the finale of her freshman season as CMU looks to close out the regular season and make the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

While Bean is currently growing into a leader for the Chippewas in the circle, it only makes sense that she'll become the anchor for the pitching staff for the next few years. She's slated to pace the next batch of CMU softball players looking to find success under Jonker. 

“Yes she’s good now, but I will be excited to watch how she progresses and watch her throughout her career,” Jonker said. "I think she is gonna be a great pitcher for us.” 

As practice begins, Bean warms up by throwing to freshman catcher Samantha Mills. Bean continues to wear that infectious smile.

One sentence seems to truly sum up her outlook on the game she loves so much. 

“I am so grateful I get to play.”