Boyd eyes crowning finish to storied career

TEMPE, Ariz. — Though ASU softball’s Senior Day ceremony was less than two weeks ago, the whole thing is a blur to Katelyn Boyd.
She walked with her mom from center field to home plate but can’t recall what they talked about on the way. The stadium announcer listed her various records and honors over the public address system, but she didn’t hear them. And there to greet her at home plate with a hug and a few words — as she fought back tears — was coach Clint Myers.

Boyd can’t recall exactly what Myers told her in that moment, but she certainly remembers what he said afterward, having gathered the seniors together: “Our work isn’t done.”

The message applied to the whole team, but it also applied to individuals such as Boyd, who looks to cap her legacy at ASU with another run at a the national championship.

“Just because I won one national championship doesn’t mean I don’t want to go for another one,” Boyd said. “Definitely, getting back (to the Women’s College World Series) would be a good way to go out, but winning it again would be even better.”

In four years at ASU, Boyd has truly done it all. As a freshman, she started all 66 of ASU’s games at shortstop while also leading the team in RBIs. She earned All-America honors her sophomore and junior seasons and is likely to do so again this year.

After her sophomore season, Boyd made the USA Softball Junior Team and competed in the World Cup. She has made the all-conference first team three times, and last season she became a national champion when ASU topped Florida in the title game at the Women’s College World Series.

Boyd says that how ASU finishes this year in the postseason, which begins Friday against LIU-Brooklyn in Tempe, won’t define her legacy as a Sun Devil, but another national championship would be the perfect ending.

“She’s got one national championship, which she was instrumental in,” Myers said. “It would be nice if we could duplicate that, but knowing her the way I know do, that’s not what she’s going to remember the most.”

Boyd’s playing career might be most defined by her commitment to the program, a commitment that has put her imprint on every game the team has played since she arrived.

In four seasons, she has missed a total of a half an inning — the final three outs of a game against UCLA her sophomore season. She had broken two fingers in her left hand but refused to miss any more time, getting back in the lineup the next day. Unable to grip the bat properly for the final month of the season, Boyd adjusted from power hitter to slap hitter.

“How many kids do you know that would not miss an inning when she had two shattered fingers?” Myers asked. “That’s just how tough of a kid she is. She came here to play, and she’s not letting broken bones or anything else stop her.”

Impressive as Boyd’s willingness to play through pain was, the real turning point of her career had come a week earlier. After splitting the first two games of a series with rival Arizona, ASU dropped the series finale 14-2, losing by the mercy rule in five innings. Boyd went 0 for 2 at the plate and committed two errors. And she said things afterward she wishes she could have take back.

“It just kind of all added up, and I lost control of my emotions,” Boyd said. “From that point on, I always felt terrible about that. I always think back on that moment when I have tough times now. It was really out of character, and that was embarrassing for me.”

The incident, Boyd says, gave her some much-needed perspective and allowed her to develop into a better leader. She learned how to better handle adversity and how to carry herself in the presence of teammates, be they younger or older.

Boyd has never been the vocal leader rousing the dugout or giving orders on the field. She doesn’t hesitate to offer words of encouragement to a struggling teammate, but it’s out of her comfort zone to be the voice of the team.

“She’s definitely more the leader by example, the quiet confidence,” fellow senior Annie Lockwood said. “She’s always been a great leader in that she just goes out there and does her work and doesn’t expect anything from anybody else.”

That quiet demeanor, though, makes the times she does speak up all the more meaningful.

“When Katelyn Boyd talks, people listen,” Myers said. “She does her best leadership during the course of games. That’s what you want out there — someone who understands what needs to be said and when it needs to be said.”

On top of her success as a player and a leader, Boyd has excelled academically. Twice she has been named to the all-conference academic team, and earlier this month she graduated with magna cum laude honors.

Boyd’s well-rounded nature, Myers said, makes her the type of model player every coach seeks. Lockwood said that although she and Boyd came in together as freshmen, she modeled her demeanor after Boyd.

“You just saw the success and her work ethic, and she was just an all-around amazing player,” Lockwood said. “I knew one day I wanted to be that for the team, too. You want to be the Katelyn Boyd for the team you’re on.”

Boyd’s impact on the field may soon be ending, but her influence isn’t going anywhere yet. Myers recently asked her to return next season as a graduate assistant, and she accepted, jumping at the chance to share all she has learned with a new class of freshman.

For now, though, Boyd remains focused on finishing strong as a player. The perfect postseason run last year’s team put together may be hard to top, but the principals remain in place. If ASU can stick to its game, Boyd said, and do the little things — sound fielding, smart base running, etc. — there’s a good chance it can capture a third national championship.

“I want to win the national championship again, no doubt,” Boyd said. “This is a very good team, and we have a very good chance of repeating. Not a lot of teams can say that.”

Myers said Boyd has already cemented her legacy as a Sun Devil. While her graduation will leave a huge hole to fill next year, her impact will last well beyond her playing career.

“Without a doubt, the name Katelyn Boyd and ASU greatness are synonymous,” Myers said. “They will always go together. She’s one of the top players to ever play at Arizona State.”