Battle Ground softball players jump start high school sports careers early in Seton Catholic historic season


Two Battle Ground athletes will start their high school athletic careers with plenty of experience as they contributed to the Seton Catholic Cougars historic season as eighth graders.

The rare opportunity came after their parents saw a Facebook post from the Vancouver private college preparatory high school asking for Battle Ground Public Schools softball players to compete for Seton Catholic.

CAM Academy eighth grader Jocelyn Kender and Chief Umtuch Middle School eighth grader Kenzie Kuhnhausen were up for the challenge and played well enough for Kender to earn defensive player of the year for the 1A Trico League while Kuhnhausen picked up second team all league infield honors. As a team, the Cougars earned their first softball trophy with a second-place finish in the 1A state tournament.

The two plan to return to Seton Catholic for their freshman year of high school in the fall. By starting their high school athletic careers early, the pair have the opportunity to earn five varsity letters by the time they graduate, a rare accomplishment. They both said the Seton Catholic environment was great and they were welcomed by their older teammates.

“It will give us better experience for the long run and to kind of know where we’re already at so we don’t go in like, ‘Oh, we don’t know what to do,’ since we already have that experience,” Kuhnhausen said about the past year.

Kender agreed, adding that the experience of high school softball was different from what she was used to playing tournament ball. She added playing in the full seven innings was fun compared to playing with a time limit in tournaments.

“It was really interesting to be able to see how it’s a way different experience than what I’m used to,” Kender said. “But it was really cool to meet new people, and it feels like the games matter more in high school than they do in anything else.”

Kender pitched and played third base for Seton Catholic while Kuhnhausen played first base.

They also enjoyed seeing other opponents compete during the regular season, especially during league play, and made sure to take mental notes for the next matchup. When the Seton Catholic Cougars reached the postseason, they were unsure of what to expect, but the experience went smoothly for the team.

“I think we all worked really good together as a team, and we were all one on the field and there was no negativity,” Kuhnhausen said. “Even if we made a mistake, we all brought each other up.”

Placing second at the state tournament made the season even more special, Kender added.

“It was really stressful and exciting, but I really liked that,” Kender said. “It was kind of like a tournament environment, but I think it really challenged everybody and everybody rose to the occasion.”

During their season, the pair also hit home runs in the same game, the first in Kuhnhausen’s career. The pair said, when not on the field, they enjoyed team bus rides and participating in non-softball activities as a team, especially during the state tournament, which made their season more memorable. They said playing high school softball a year early will make their transition from middle to high school easier, and they look forward to the next four years.