Tallahassee, Fla. (seminoles.com) – The college softball world is certainly glad that Florida State’s Kaley Mudge decided not to pursue weightlifting when she was a senior in high school.
As a multi-sport athlete who excelled in every sport she tried – softball, volleyball, basketball, soccer, and track. She was a member of her high school’s weightlifting team as a senior.
“Weightlifting was a winter sport,” said Mudge. “Volleyball season ended right before it started and weightlifting ended right when softball started in the spring. I had a few softball teammates that had been on the weightlifting team for a few years already. They let me join the weightlifting team, and I was able to work out every day during school even during volleyball season.”
Fortunately for the Florida State softball program, Mudge chose the bats and the balls over the power bars and kettlebells.
As Mudge and her teammates begin play in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional Championship against Howard on Friday night at 8:30 pm, she has made all of the right decisions and is at the top of her sport. The Seminoles are the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the ACC Champions for the first time in her career, and one of the national favorites to get back to Oklahoma City and the Women’s College World Series.
But for one of the most recognizable players in all of college softball, Mudge almost never got to this point in her career.
Mudge began her softball career at age five, but because there was not a softball league for her age group in her hometown of Winter Springs, Fla., she played t-ball against the boys. She played every sport she could, including travel softball, in middle school. She played both softball and volleyball throughout her career at Winter Springs High School.
She worked to become one of the top players in the state of Florida and committed to Head Coach Lonni Alameda and the Seminoles as a freshman.
As a true freshman, she started only four of 24 games during the 2020 season that was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She finished the shortened season with a .217 batting average and only five hits in 23 at-bats.
Her playing status didn’t change much in 2021, and she had only nine hits during the months of February, March, and April.
“My first year and a half were really hard for me because I had put my entire identity into a game of failure,” said Mudge. “I was so frustrated and exhausted because I wasn’t able to perform at my best with the amount of pressure I was putting on myself. Once the lightbulb clicked that softball is simply what I do, not who I am, I was able to play freely.”
Starting with Florida State’s doubleheader sweep over Pittsburgh on May 8, 2021, Mudge turned her season, and her career, completely around.
In the final 16 games of the season, Mudge hit .346 (18 of 52) with her career-high of five hits in the Seminoles’ 8-5 win over Alabama at the WCWS. Her performance against Alabama lifted the Seminoles into the championship series at the WCWS against Oklahoma.
Along the way, she became the darling of college softball.
“Kaley has turned into one of the most consistent softball players for us this season through her dedication, hard work and commitment to being the best version of herself,” said Alameda. “She does a really good job of reflecting on her performances and evaluating and learning how to grow in the areas that contribute to the team. When you add consistency and comfort with who she is, then she grows on those skill sets that get her to be more consistent on the field to where she ends up being that spark plug for our team in the leadoff spot.”
Her passion for the game was recognized nationally by ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza.
“I love watching Kaley’s leadership and passion on the field,” said Mendoza. “She is a moment-type player that understands the bigger times in a game or the season and performs under those pressures.”
Ever a student and a student of the game of softball, Mudge lists Mendoza as the person she would love to enjoy a conversation about life with should the Seminoles return to the WCWS.
“She has been a pioneer for our sport, and I would love to hear her experiences and the lessons she learned from playing softball,” said Mudge of Mendoza.
The Exercise Physiology major also has a passion for her academics.
Mudge has been named to the Dean’s list four times and to the President’s List once during her academic career. To be named to the President’s List for Academics requires a perfect 4.0 GPA for a given semester. Mudge has a cumulative GPA of 3.739.
“My academic success is extremely important to me,” said Mudge. “I want to be the best at everything I do in life, including school. My parents always held me accountable for getting good grades. I’ve never had an issue with bad grades because I strive to be the best I can in all aspects of life.”
For Mudge, her trademark smile and relentless ability to thrive in every aspect of her life, are just two of the things that drive her to be great.
“The best thing about being Kaley Mudge is the smile she gets to put on her face when she steps on the field. I feel so grateful to be able to put the FSU jersey on and be a part of a program that is so special to me. From my teammates to my coaches and support staff, and to the fans, this university is unlike any other college in the country, and I am so blessed to be a small part of history.”