Meet Alaina Koutsogiani, one of the best base-stealers in the country
Robert Morris freshman Alaina Koutsogiani has proved to be a game-changer in both the leadoff spot and on the bases.
April 18, 2022
In Robert Morris softball’s latest game against IUPUI, freshman infielder Alaina Koutsogiani reached on an error in the first inning, stole second base, and took third on a grounder, scoring on a sacrifice fly for the team’s only run of the game.
It’s nothing new for the Peters Township native, who has found a way to impact nearly every game of her career so far, even when she isn’t getting on base.
The freshman has been entrusted with the leadoff spot this season in the absence of normal leadoff hitter Kristyna Mala, and it doesn’t seem like she will be relinquishing that any time soon.
“At first, there was a lot of pressure, but I have mostly always been in the leadoff spot, so I’m used to it,” Koutsogiani said. “It’s nice for me to get on base without anyone in front of me, so I have that open base path, and that’s my job.”
When she gets on first base, she’s likely to steal second. Koutsogiani already shattered Kelli Miller’s single-season record of 23 stolen bases, a record that has stood since 1990.
In addition, she is the first Colonial ever to reach 30 stolen bases in a season and sits at 31 after the team’s series against IUPUI, ranking her fifth in the entire country. Koutsogiani has her sights set on stealing more bases at RMU.
“It’s awesome [to be in the record books already], but I’m not going to stop there,” she said. “I’m going to keep going. I definitely wanted to make an impact as soon as I got here.”
She has stolen 31 bases in 33 opportunities, a 93% success rate, which is one of the most efficient marks in the country.
The infielder has shown a lot of pop and thrived in all situations as well, sitting second on the team in home runs (3), first in hits (34), total bases (50) and runs scored (26) and fourth in RBI (17), batting average (.291) and on-base percentage (.391).
Koutsogiani has undoubtedly been a pest to opposing pitchers this season in other ways, being hit by a pitch seven times and walking 16 times during the year, something she takes pride in.
“That’s my job. If they hit me or walk me, that’s good for me,” Koutsogiani said. “Most people don’t want that, but I just need to get on base. Anything works for me.”
She has noticed pitchers pitching her differently after being hit five times in the team’s first seven games, including a run of five games in a row. Instead of trying to jam her, pitchers are working the outside part of the plate, which favors her proclivity to reach base via the walk.
Robert Morris fit the mold of the school she wanted to attend when she was deciding where to go to college, citing that she wanted a team that would compete as soon as she got there. It also helped that her father is an alum of Robert Morris.
At first, there was a lot of pressure, but I have mostly always been in the leadoff spot, so I’m used to it. It’s nice for me to get on base without anyone in front of me, so I have that open base path, and that’s my job.”
— Alaina Koutsogiani on batting leadoff
She also mentioned how close to home she was as a deciding factor, having a closeness with her family that she can experience while also playing competitive softball.
The Colonials have achieved that competitiveness due to her contributions, standing second in the Horizon League with an 11-3 conference record, one of two teams in the conference with more than 20 wins. Head coach Jexx Varner lauded her contributions earlier in the season.
“Having Alaina Koutsogiani at third base, she has been unbelievable in the leadoff spot for us,” he said. “She’s been a real game-changer this season.”
While she is listed as a utility player, Koutsogiani has appeared at third base for most of the season and played solid defense at the hot corner. Making an impact on both sides of the ball is something she tries to do every game.
“That was my goal all along, and it’s awesome being able to play both sides well, in the infield and in the box.”
With the number of wins the Colonials have racked up, they welcome the challenge the rest of their schedule presents, and Koutsogiani is happy to be the first person the opposing pitcher faces as they try to get the game underway.
“As a leadoff, I try to see as many pitches as I can,” she said. “I’m the first one to see anything from the pitcher, so it’s good to tell the rest of the team what I’m seeing. I also want to work the count, know that I’m good at hitting, and see what [the pitcher] is throwing me.”
As the Colonials get into the stretch run of their season, Koutsogiani hopes to continue her solid freshman campaign at the school.
“I just want to keep doing what I’m doing and stay consistent,” Koutsogiani said. “I want to get more bases, make an impact, score some runs and help the team out.”
Keep an eye on Alaina Koutsogiani for the rest of the season. Blink once, and she might be on third base.