CEDAR RAPIDS - Former Anamosa High School standout Jessie Frasher was on a bus with the rest of her Kirkwood Community College softball teammates heading to Fayetteville, Arkansas, when all of a sudden, the bus they were in turned around and started heading back to Iowa.

      “Our coach got word that our tournament had been cancelled,” said Frasher as the Eagles were making their way to Arkansas play Carl Albert State College in the opener of a tournament that would see Kirkwood play numerous out-of-state opponents in mid-March.

      “We couldn’t believe it. At that point we didn’t know the extent of what was going on. Then a couple of days later we got a text that our entire season was done. That was heartbreaking. I was really looking forward to my freshman season with the Kirkwood softball team.”

      Frasher participated in fall ball with the Eagles as the team stepped to the plate against powerful D-I foes like the University of Iowa, Iowa State, UNI and Creighton last September while also playing smaller programs Mount Mercy, Illinois Central College and Iowa Central Community College.

      “That was my first taste of collegiate softball, going against all those big schools,” Frasher said. “It was a big adjustment and a completely different atmosphere compared to what I had been used to. The practices here at Kirkwood were more intense and longer than anything I had ever experienced in high school, so I had my eyes opened quite a big when we started playing teams like UNI, Iowa State and Iowa last fall.”

      While the Eagles struggled against the bigger schools, the team, and Frasher in particular, soaked in the entire experience.

      “There was pretty much no pressure on us going against all those big schools,” Frasher said. “Nobody expected us to win so we went in with the attitude that we would just learn from the experience and get better so we could be an even better team when the regular season started in the spring. The only games we won in the fall were the two against Mount Mercy, but we learned a lot.”

      Kirkwood wrapped up fall ball in mid-October and then Frasher went to work honing her skills to keep herself sharp during the winter.

      It worked.

      In just her third official game for Kirkwood on Feb. 9, Frasher picked up her first collegiate RBI driving home a run in an 11-3 win over Marshalltown Community College in Burlington. Later that day Frasher, playing in just her fourth game as an Eagle, launched a two-run home run leading Kirkwood to a 6-5 triumph over Southeastern Community College.

      “In the fall it was tough going up against 21 and 22-year-olds, but it got us ready for what we were going to face in the spring, and we got off to a decent start,” Frasher said. “The strike zone was an adjustment for me too. It seems like it’s much tighter here at the college level compared to what it was in high school.”

      Frasher played in seven games for Kirkwood before the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, playing mainly catcher defensively for the team that was sporting a 9-3 overall record when things were shut down.

      “As much as it hurts having the season taken away, to keep people safe you have to do drastic things like this,” Frasher said. “You just can’t take things for granted.”

      Frasher still has big plans for her off-season however, which also includes a trip back home to coach with the Anamosa softball program.

      “I’m working on getting my coaching license and I would like to volunteer at Anamosa this summer, assuming we have a season,” she said. “I’m also going to take part in the Iowa Women’s Collegiate softball summer league at Mount Mercy, too. Other than that, I plan on being out in the field with my brother (Tyler) hitting and throwing and doing whatever I can to keep my edge.”

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