Central Kitsap's Carolyn Cross works hard to make things look easy

Central Kitsap senior-to-be Carolyn Cross has maintained a 4.0 through her junior year and helped CK’s softball team to back-to-back state appearances. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Central Kitsap senior-to-be Carolyn Cross has maintained a 4.0 through her junior year and helped CK’s softball team to back-to-back state appearances.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

CK rising senior excels on, off the field.

Nothing comes easy for Carolyn Cross, no matter how easy she makes it look.

The Central Kitsap senior-to-be excels at most everything she does, whether it’s on the fastpitch field or the academic arena. And while she makes it look easy enough, her 4.0 GPA coupled with her 0.74 ERA, CK softball coach Bruce Welling said it’s anything but.

“It’s her work ethic and her focus,” Welling said, placing Cross among the hardest workers he’s seen. “She does not let situations bother her. She does her thing. She stays very level-headed and very, very focused. Put those two together and she has — and will — succeed.”

Talk about an understatement.

Cross not only continues to maintain a 4.0 through her junior year, but she’s done so with 12 Advanced Placement classes under her belt. By the time she enters a four-year college, she’ll be well into her sophomore year of academic eligibility. No wonder the CK wunderkind is wrestling between schools like Stanford and Harvard.

“I work my butt off,” Cross said. “That’s what it comes down to.”

And that’s why Cross has been selected as the Central Kitsap Reporter’s 2007-08 Female Student-Athlete of the Year.

Cross, whose athletic accomplishments seem to mirror her academic accolades, possesses a combination of brains and brawn that have allowed her to succeed above and beyond the norm.

As a sophomore during the 2006-07 school season, Cross gave CK a solid No. 2 arm to complement then-senior ace Erika Quint, last year’s Northwest Association of Community College’s Northern Division Pitcher of the Year. On a team filled with capable seniors (five are now playing collegiately), Cross got exposed to the CK softball tradition, helping return the team to state for the first time since 2000. The team advanced back to state this year with just two seniors on the roster.

“It’s really nice knowing you can do it too,” Cross said of this year’s advancement. “Last year we were still helping the seniors, but it was still their team.”

With CK making it back, Cross said it will allow the team to focus even more next year.

“It just felt really good knowing we advanced really well as a team,” she said. “Next year it’s just going to be fastpitch.”

With almost the entire team returning, Cross said it’s time for this batch of Cougars to make their mark on the program with no doubts over what the team has.

“I’m really glad we stepped up,” she said. “At tryouts, I was like, ‘Oh my god. How are we gonna do this year?’ But as the season went on, I was like, ‘Wow, they keep getting better and better.’”

Cross was a big part of that improvement. Behind the ace’s arm, CK finished 17-7 overall before taking second place at districts. While the team went two-and-out at state, the losses were narrow, falling 2-0 to Monroe (which came within two games of a trophy) and 5-4 to Kentlake (which came within a game of a trophy). Cross was named to the All-Narrows League First Team, posting a 14-4 overall record to go with her 0.74 ERA. In 108 innings, she struck out 90 while walking just 19.

Offensively, she put together a .386 batting average, scoring 24 runs and driving in 15. She struck out just three times in 44 at bats.

On the diamond, Cross is as competitive as they come, another attribute fueled in academics as well. Just ask CK teammate and classmate Erin Curtis, Cross said. While the two compete together on the field, they’re gunning for each other in the classroom.

“Erin Curtis, she’s right there with me,” Cross said. “We’re competitive. And we both want valedictorian.”

Cross said the pair have shared math classes for past five years.

“She always gets so mad,” Cross said. “She’ll get a 93 (percent) and I’ll get a 94. But she helps me out in other classes.”

With such a heavy class load to go with softball, Cross said time management is a skill she’s had to hone.

“Fastpitch comes around during the AP tests,” she added. “That’s the hard part.”

But she said Welling understands the importance of academics as well.

“Especially with Bruce. If you have to leave practice to go study, it’s not a problem,” Cross said, adding that her teachers afford her similar chances. “Everyone’s really supportive of everything I do. All my teachers tell me, ‘Good job pitching.’ And Bruce actually watches out for me on the academics.”

With six more AP classes on the slate for her senior year, Cross said she knows her toughest challenges lie ahead.

“That’s gonna be a bit harder,” she said. “Even (if I weren’t playing) fastpitch, it’s gonna be pretty hard.”

While the work load increases, Cross said her fastpitch career isn’t in jeopardy.

“I always do fastpitch,” she said. “It’s my commitment. You just have to make it work.”

And who knows. As mom Linda and dad John have pointed out, it could pay off big down the road.

“I’m not sure I’m going to be able to play fastpitch in college because I’m so focused on academics,” Cross said. “I’m torn because I realize academics is the future. My parents were like, ‘Oh, just keep it open. You might get a scholarship for it.’”

But coming to that realization usually happens later for most high school students. Then again, Cross is anything but most high school students.

“You have to realize academics are your future,” Cross said, pointing out that for fastpitch athletes, the road ends after college anyway as no pro league’s exist.

Planning on majoring in math with focuses in science or in the legal realm, Cross said CK has prepared her already for the next academic level, even if she does have year to go.

“All my teachers are absolutely fantastic. I’m really lucky,” she said. “(And my parents) do a lot. They’re always there to push me. My dad’s always practiced with me all the time.”

One would think after accomplishing all that Cross would be ready for a break. But...

“Now in the summer, I find I’m actually really bored,” she said.

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