KP PROUD — From State Champ to National Runner-Up: Alli Kimball’s Epic Year

Alli Kimball was one of eight finalists for the 2024 TUCCI/NFCA Division II Freshman of the Year Award.


It was a beautiful 65-degree day in Lacey May 27, 2023, when Peninsula High School senior Alli Kimball and her Seahawks softball teammates hoisted the 3A state championship trophy. It was the perfect way to end a stellar season for one of the state’s top pitchers.

Just 363 days later, in a city 3,160 miles away, on a day 30 degrees warmer, Kimball was the starting pitcher in yet another title match-up, this time as a freshman for the Western Washington Vikings in the NCAA Division II National Championship series. It wasn’t the perfect way to end another stellar season, but what a year for one of the country’s top pitchers.

“It’s a year I will never forget,” said Kimball, whose Vikings team finished 52-12 and national runners-up after losing two straight to University of Texas-Tyler. “I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of staying in the moment and being able to cherish everything as it goes. But pitching in two championship games in less than a year, honestly, it doesn’t feel real.”

But Kimball is no doubt the real deal. After capping off an incredible prep career where she was the 2023 Scorebook Live Washington 3A Pitcher of the Year and the South Sound Conference Pitcher of the Year for the third straight year, Kimball went 24-4 during her freshman season with the Vikings, including 9-2 in the postseason.

Her 24 wins rank as the third most in a single season in school history. She made 32 starts, pitched seven complete games, had four shut-outs, and recorded an impressive 1.41 earned run average.

The Vikings won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championship and the NCAA Division II West Regional Championship. For her hard work, the honors came rolling in: All-GNAC honorable mention team, All-West Region second team, NCAA Championships All-Tournament team, and just last month she was selected as one of eight finalists for the 2024 TUCCI/NCFA Division II National Freshman of the Year Award.

Pretty good credentials for a kid who grew up on the Key Peninsula.

Kimball and her family moved to Vaughn when she was 5 years old. She went to Vaughn Elementary and Key Peninsula Middle School before becoming one of the premier softball players in the state with the Peninsula Seahawks.

Her dad, Joe, played catcher all the way through the semi-pro ranks, and Alli said he was the reason she started playing softball.

“As a parent, you start living vicariously through your kids,” Joe said. “In my mind, my daughter was a catcher and she’d do all the things I never could do. But we never forced her to play. It was a game she fell in love with.”

She got her first taste of competition when she was in third grade playing with the Key Peninsula Little League.

“(KPLL) helped me grow my passion,” Alli said. “It helped me realize this is what I wanted to do.” Both Alli and Joe credit Alli’s KPLL coaches, Jason and Jen Moberg, for noticing Alli’s potential early and encouraging her to get involved in club softball.

And that’s where it all changed for Alli.

She was on the path to becoming a catcher her dad could take pride in, but it was her underhand pitching style when she was 11 that caught the eyes of both club coach Mark Anderton and University of Washington softball pitching coach Lance Glasoe.

“My dad is a great catcher and he wanted me to be just like him,” Alli said. “No matter where I said I wanted to play (on the field), he said, ‘Nope. You’re a catcher. Catching runs in your blood.’ ”

But after Alli threw just a handful of pitches, Joe heard some dream-shattering news from the two subject-matter experts: “They said your daughter is a pitcher, not a catcher,” Alli remembered Anderton and Glasoe telling her dad.

“It was heartbreaking,” Joe said, in jest. “But when a coach who has won a national championship (Glasoe) and a knowledgeable friend of yours (Anderton) give you that kind of feedback, it’s an easy decision.”

Alli’s softball trajectory changed, and Joe was all in. He quickly converted a batting cage at the Kimball house so that it could also be used for pitching, something Joe is less familiar with, especially the underhand style used in softball.

“I really think she benefited from me not knowing how to pitch,” Joe said. “She brings home everything she learns at practices and lessons and I just get to be a dad sitting on a bucket, catching balls. Now she’s living her dream, her way. It’s humbling and it’s just awesome to sit back and see that.”

The hard work and determination paid off. Alli played four years of varsity softball for the Seahawks where she earned a 44-6 record as the team’s starting pitcher while throwing five no-hitters and recording 599 strikeouts. Her success on the softball field likely would’ve drawn interest from colleges across the country, but Alli said she accepted the offer from Western Washington within five minutes of getting it.

“I knew this is where I wanted to be,” she said. “They really prioritize the student before the athlete in the term ‘student-athlete,’ and I know my academics are what is going to take me through life and softball is just a small part of it.”

Being somewhat close to home was another reason WWU was an easy choice. The Kimballs are a close-knit family and Alli repeatedly used the word “grateful” when talking about them.

Joe, Alli’s mom, Shari, and her brothers Kody and Joey made the trip to Bellingham to watch the Vikings all season. Because playing in the national championship series was nearly last-minute, only Joe and Joey could make the trip out to Longwood, Florida, while Shari and Kody stayed behind to run the family’s auto detailing business in Gig Harbor. The two were able to watch the online broadcasts of the games on all the TVs in the shop.

Alli wrapped her freshman year at WWU last month where she is finishing up her general requirements before deciding what she wants to major in. Right now she’s leaning toward coming back to the area after graduation to teach and coach, but she has three more years to figure it out. She also has three more years to compete for another championship, and according to Alli, that is likely since the team is not losing many seniors to graduation this year.

“On the plane ride back from the national championship, we were already planning our trip to Tennessee (for next year’s NCAA championship),” Alli said. “If our team keeps going as it is, the chances are high we’ll be back.”