World Series Spotlight: For the Kirkpatrick Sisters, the World Series Is a Family Thing
Meeting people from different states and countries, sharing experiences with teammates, and playing live on TV, are all wonderful opportunities for Little League® World Series teams. In coming issues of the Little Leaguer®, we will feature players who have had special World Series moments and see what they are doing now. This month’s World Series Spotlight are the Kirkpatrick sisters - Kristi and Nichole - who between them, have played in six Little League Softball® World Series Tournaments at the teenage levels.
Little League is extremely important to the Kirkpatrick family.
Married for 20 years, Matt and Heidi Kirkpatrick were Little Leaguers® in South Bend’s Southeast Little League in Indiana long before becoming Mr. and Mrs.
“Both Heidi and I had good experiences growing up playing Little League, and we didn't think twice about having our kids do the same thing,” said Matt, who was a coach on Nichole’s Indiana District 11 team that won the 2014 Senior Softball World Series in Lower Sussex County, Del.
In the title game, Nichole threw a seven-inning, two-hit shutout to lift the Central Region Champions to a 5-0 win over the West Region champion Garden City Softball/Mullan Trail Little League from Missoula, Mont. The win made it back-to-back Senior Softball World Championships for Indiana District 11.
Nichole, 18, just completed her junior year in high school, where she is a member of the National Honors Society and her high school softball team. Nichole also enjoys golf, has shown talent for drawing, and volunteers regularly at her church.
Going into her sophomore year at Aurora (Ill.) University, Kristi, 20, has played in the Junior, Senior, and Big League Softball World Series for Indiana District 11. So, having a summer without a trip to the World Series would seem strange for the Kirkpatricks.
“Going to the World Series was awesome, but playing in it made it 100 times better,” said Nichole. “I made a lot of friends and learned a lot about the cultures of the other countries. It was a phenomenal experience.”
The Kirkpatricks have embraced a life rich with Little League.
“We constantly live Little League,” said Mr. Kirkpatrick, a seventh-grade math teacher in Laporte, Ind. “We bought a camper to help with travels, and the kids just assumed that going on vacation included having a Little League game on our schedule, because it is a family thing.”
Kristi and Nichole are the oldest of the Kirkpatrick children. Kristi has been playing Little League Softball since she was seven years old, and Nichole began in Little League at the age of six. Both have enjoyed impressive success as pitchers and seem eager to mentor their three younger brothers: Kyle, Gabe, and Hunter– all Little Leaguers.
“I can honestly say that Little League has been my whole life,” said Kristi, who is playing softball at Aurora University. “Little League introduced me to my best friends, and without the hard work we put in over the years, we wouldn’t be playing at the college level today.”
Privileged to have played in four World Series, Kristi admitted that each trip was like a dream.
“When I was 10 years old, I would have never thought I would get the chance to play against teams from Italy, Guam, Puerto Rico, and all over the United States,” said Kristi. “My greatest memories are made from Little League, and I can’t imagine my life without it.”
Mr. Kirkpatrick has volunteered in Southeast Little League for several seasons, including five years as a member of the league’s Board of Directors. He, and his wife, recognize and appreciate the influence that Little League has had on their lives, and the lives of their children.