By: COOPER ALBERS / STAFF REPORTER
Since moving to the Big Apple, LIU Softball Pitcher Kira Buckner has been thriving on and off the field.
Growing up in Round Lake, Illinois, Buckner began playing softball at seven years old, where she fell in love with the art of pitching. Playing at Mundelein High School, she knew she wanted to continue pitching for as long as possible, but she needed to find the right place to do so.
“I had always dreamed of living in New York City, as I emailed almost all of the NEC schools hoping they had pitcher spots available. However, the school I was previously committed to was back home in Illinois, so I didn’t think my dream was attainable at that point. Life works in mysterious ways, and somehow I ended up exactly where I always wanted to be.”
Now three years into her LIU tenure, Buckner has loved every second of representing the blue and gold. Although not always easy, Buckner, admittedly, had to adjust to playing a D1 sport in such a big city. She joked that she had to learn to tune out the blaring sirens and constant horns while throwing bullpen sessions.
Buckner is currently majoring in Health Sciences at LIU to become a physician’s assistant. Surely a daunting task balancing an arduous course load with a rigorous softball schedule, she assured that managing the two acts is something she’s grown accustomed to throughout her softball career.
“I was an honor roll student all four years of high school and a part of extracurriculars in addition to softball - it’s all about keeping everything organized and staying productive. There wasn’t, and still isn’t, any room for procrastination.”
As busy as she is, Buckner emphasized the importance of prioritizing her mental health. On her rest days, she enjoys writing and producing music. Buckner expressed that she also journals, which has become a powerful tool for keeping her mentally tough throughout the season.
Buckner has wasted no time making a statement in her junior season. On February 11th, she recorded her first career shutout in a 4-0 win vs. Binghamton. Taking a perfect game bid into the fifth inning, Buckner tallied 11 strikeouts, 0 base-on-balls and only one hit on just 85 pitches.
Shortly after, Buckner recorded another historic shutout performance in a 3-0 win against Fordham on February 26th. From the opening pitch, Buckner was unhittable. At one point in the game, Buckner recorded 11 consecutive strikeouts, setting a program record. Buckner racked up 13 total strikeouts throughout the seven innings, a number LIU coach Roy Kortmann believes to be a school record, as well.
On the season, as of March 1, Buckner has a 1.78 ERA, tallying 46 strikeouts in 39.1 innings pitched. Buckner was named the NEC Prime Performer on Feb. 14 and 28, and took home NEC Pitcher of the Week honors on Feb. 28.
Humbly, Buckner reflected on her record-breaking performance by emphasizing the incredible team effort.
“Simply put, it was a game of confidence and trust. As confident and clear-minded as I was going into the game, I had an unbelievable amount of trust in my team to support me. Whether that be my teammates cheering me on, defensively backing me up or offensively helping our team get ahead, I fully trusted them to fulfill their responsibilities. I realized on Sunday just how good our team can be.”