GCU softball’s Kristin Fifield adds ‘leader’ to sparkling college resume

As GCU softball’s standout graduate senior, Kristin Fifield makes an impact on and off the field through her passion for shaping the future of the Lopes program and her community. (Screen grab by Riley Swenson/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Kristin Fifield is adding something new to her resume during Grand Canyon University’s 2024 softball season.


As a graduate senior and one of the oldest players on the team, she has taken it upon herself to take the program’s freshmen under her wing and prepare them to help the 20-5 Lopes when they make their postseason run.

It is a natural progression for Fifield, a native of El Paso, Texas, who has excelled on and off the diamond during a sparkling career at GCU.

Last season she won the Joe Kearney Award that goes to the top male and female athletes in any sport in the Western Athletic Conference. She is a three-time all-WAC first-team selection and was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Region team last season.

This season, she is hitting a career-best .436, raising her career batting average to .358 as Grand Canyon prepared to visit Arizona State on March 12. She shares the team lead with four home runs and leads the Lopes with 30 RBIs. She had 21 homers and drove in 85 last season.

But the crown jewel on that résumé might be her nomination by the WAC for the NCAA’s Women of the Year award in 2023.

The NCAA Women of the Year honor is awarded to athletes who demonstrate outstanding achievements in academics, athletics, community service, and leadership. Fifield was one of two WAC athletes the conference nominated last year.

“There’s so many amazing athletes and female athletes, especially not just at GCU, but everywhere around, in Phoenix and Texas, wherever it might be,” Fifield said. “So being able to be one of those female athletes has been really amazing and honored to be able to receive that and just be a part of those nominees.

“It’s not often that that happens anywhere. But I’m super, super honored and very thankful for all the people who helped me get to the point where I’m at.”

Fifield, an elementary education major, believes that helping children allows her to show her leadership skills and build a relationship with the local community in both Phoenix and her hometown of El Paso.

“I honestly love working with kids. My sister is an elementary education teacher, so I kind of just followed in her footsteps a little bit by kind of just watching what she does,” Fifield said.

Her sister, Kaitlin, has always been an inspiration for Fifield. Kaitlin played softball at UTEP and now teaches in El Paso.

“I’ve been lucky to be able to go with my sister to work when I’ve been home and kind of experience that end of it,” Fifield said. “It’s super cool to see how she kind of teaches and to learn from her about what areas I can take as a future teacher.”

Even with softball being in season and with the demands that come with being a student and an athlete, Fifield tries to make time to volunteer at local schools. She said that last week the team went to read to some local children at school just for fun.

But she couldn’t achieve all of this success on her own. Two of her mentors are GCU softball coach Shanon Hays and assistant coach Sydney Sherrill.

“Her passion was really cool to watch,” Fifield said of Sherrill. “The energy that she brought and the confidence that she always had that she carried throughout the entire game … so I loved watching her and just the ambition. She had to just go and get after it.”

Sherrill, a former three-time All-American and national champion with Florida State has provided a unique insight into the game and passed along leadership qualities to Fifield as she enters her graduate year.

“She’s been really patient with our freshmen, who are super talented and they’re going to be huge for this program,” Sherrill said. “But it takes time for them to grow and learn, just as it took time for Kristin and it took time for me.

“That’s what a career is about, is just growing and building, and I’m really proud of her for being patient with them and coaching them and teaching them the way that she has, because it’s obviously showing up really, really well. I’m super proud of her.”

Sherrill said having Fifield on the team gives the Lopes what amounts to a player-coach on the field and the team benefits greatly from it.

“The foundation being built from these freshmen when they first come in, I think it’s super awesome,” Sherrill said. “She’s well-respected on and off the field by her teammates, and she’s put in the hard work to get there.”

Hays, who is in his third season at the helm of the GCU program, added that Fifield’s character has shown in all aspects of her career.

“I don’t think I’ll know what to do without her,” he said. “You know, she was here when I arrived here, and she was a holdover and you just can’t ask for anything more.

“She’s a great leader. She’s a great teammate. She’s obviously a great talent, and she’s got great drive, so it’s hard to find anything wrong with her.”

Hays conceded he’s even a little bit jealous of how easy Fifield makes it all look.

“She’s well rounded. She excels in every part of her life,” he said. “That’s part of what makes her a great leader. She’s going to be a great teacher, great professional, so she just excels at everything.”

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Addison Kalmbach expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. Kalmbach has interned in broadcast operations at FOX Sports and as a digital reporter with PHOENIX Magazine and Detroit City FC. He also has done freelance work for R1S1 Sports.

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Riley Swenson expects to graduate in December 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in communication. Swenson has interned as a reporter with WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota.