From her early beginnings playing tee ball in Los Angeles to NCAA Division II softball in Rohnert Park, last week’s “Seawolf Player of the Week” has always shaped her character between chalked lines.
Senior Jena Kaser plays first base for the nationally ranked #19 Sonoma State University Seawolves softball team. Kaser was born and raised in Van Nuys with two siblings, an older and younger brother.
“We grew up in a baseball family,” said Kaser. “if we weren’t at home, we were at the ball field.”
Kaser started playing tee-ball when she was four years old at a local little league. She continued playing with all of the boys until she was nine years old, then transitioning to softball. “It was a lot different with not only new rules but fellow girls I previously never had to deal with,” said Kaser.
She was the starting Varsity catcher all four years at Grover Cleveland High School in Reseda, CA.
As a Grover Cleveland Cavalier, Kaser was selected to the Los Angeles Daily News Senior All-Star team and won the Senior Stand-Out Award, M.V.P. award (senior year), the Cavalier Spirit Award, and the All-City Scholar Athlete Award.
After high school, Kaser went to Glendale Community College, where she was the starting catcher both years and earned an Associate’s Degree in Health Science. With a stacked roster her freshman year, Kaser made Glendale College school history by making it to NCAA Super Regionals. Half-way through her sophomore season in April 2013, she committed to Sonoma on a softball scholarship. Unfortunately, Kaser tore her left ACL shortly after.
“Coach Bridges graciously still kept the door open for me to come and play at Sonoma State so I had surgery that July 2013 and ended up tearing my ACL again that October while practicing with our team,” said Kaser.
Kaser redshirted and had a second surgery in February 2014.
“I became a stronger person because of my injuries, never did the thought of quitting cross my mind and I think my knee is healthier than it has ever been,” said Kaser.
Kaser gives credit to the the the Sonoma State softball program’s draining workouts both at the Track and Weight room all fall.Kaser’s roomate and fellow teammate, Aubrie Tolliver, was inspired by Kaser’s impressive recovery.
“She is tough and resillient.” said Tolliver. “I am so happy that she is now able to to reap the benefits from all the hard work she put into her recovery.”
Kaser continued her success with the Seawolves, winning the Patron’s Club Scholarship, the Athletes with Character and Ethics Award, Sonoma State’s Most Valuable Player. and Softball Player of the Year in 2013, she then earned Second Team All-Conference honors in 2012 and 2013. In the 2015 season, Kaser held a .358 batting average with 19 home runs, 17 runs batted in, and a perfect fielding percentage in the twenty six games she played in.
Kaser’s effort in her recovery has set a great example for her team.
“She had been a solid role model to the freshman and newcomers on this team.” said Tolliver, “Her presence and leadership on the field is someting this team depends on.”
Kaser is happy to be back on field playing the game she loves. “When thinking about my career here at Sonoma, I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity, it has made me the type of athlete I never thought I could become after sustaining my near career-ending injuries,” said Kaser.
Kaser holds high regards to the university’s softball program that has taught girls to become women and to become an overall better human being. “As Sonoma State softball alum, players proudly graduate knowing they mastered Olympic lifts, such as a 300+lb deadlift or passed our infamous conditioning test called Gassers.”
After batting over .400 to start the season along with a home run and five RBI’s, Jena Kaser was named this week’s Seawolf Player of the Week.
“It’s great that our athletic department gives recognition to its student-athletes with subtle distinctions such as this and I am honored to be apart of it so early in our season,” said Kaser.
As is it is with many of the senior student-athletes here at Sonoma State, a final season comes with a bittersweet end.
“My mind hungers to continue to keep playing at this level, but my body aches after each weekend series we play,” said Kaser.
“I fell in love with a game that has taught me life lessons such as hard work, dedication, commitment, many of which are foundational staples that Sonoma softball embodies,” said Kaser. “I just hope that one day I will be able to give what the game has given me back to future generations of aspiring players.”