Cori Kennedy thought she was “here for a good time, not for a long time.”
That’s the mantra, anyway, the Minnesota State softball catcher preaches on the so-called “quick, informational video” that she posted on Twitter last month, suggesting, in jest, that players “swing at every pitch, don’t care where it is.”
Turns out, Kennedy may be here for a long, long time.
The 39-second video shot in a batting cage last December was originally made as a joke to send to her five siblings. They were unimpressed, she said, but friends who thought it was funny eventually encouraged Kennedy post it to social media.
The video wasn’t just a hit. Rather, it was, to use Kennedy’s words after she blasted a ball off a tee, “outta here in any stadium you want to play in, guaranteed dinger.”
Since posting it on April 10, the viral video has been viewed 2.15 million times, and Kennedy’s followers have shot up to more than 26,000 on Twitter and 21,000 on Instagram.
She’s since posted two more softball-related "instructional" videos that have more than a million views each and have inspired countless imitations and tributes, many of which Kennedy has retweeted.
“When I thought of something going viral, I was like, ‘Oh, all my teammates saw it, my family saw it, my friends saw it,’ and that's cool,” Kennedy said last week before her team headed to Rochester for the NSIC tournament. “But then I got people reaching out to me from Texas, Mississippi, all over the nation, and I'm like, ‘Oh, wow, this really is viral.’ … It's been crazy. It's been a lot of fun.”
In Kennedy’s two hitting videos — the second, on slap hitting, takes her on a hilarious journey around town — she suggests intimidating opponents by holding a bat over one’s head like a Samurai sword and pointing at the pitcher.
Young softball players around the country have posted videos of themselves doing the same and tagging Kennedy in them.
“It's been super fun,” Kennedy said. “Some of these girls sending in videos are actually hitting absolute moon shots — and they’re doing this in games, which is definitely not recommended.”
Even Kennedy’s opponents have gotten in on the fun.
“When we played against Upper Iowa, they were quoting my videos in the dugout,” she said. “The first batter, some slap hitter, hit a foul ball, and one of her teammates goes, ‘Use the ground!’ and the rest of the team was like, ‘What ground?’ I looked in the dugout and smiled, and they all laughed and lost it.”
“What ground?” refers to hitting home runs, not base hits, one of the many clever quips she uses.
“A lot of it is just a lot of dumb stuff I say off the top of my head, but people seem to like it,” she said.
Kennedy, a West Concord native and Kasson-Mantorville High School graduate, said she comes from a hilarious, sarcastic family. That applies to her five siblings as well as her grandma, whom she’s featured on other funny videos.
“People call us the Crazy Kennedys because we're just off the hook,” Kennedy said. “And the joke is: If you can survive the Kennedy household for a weekend, you can survive anything. So it’s definitely in the blood.”
Kennedy, whose third softball video features her putting bows in her hair and eye black on her face before a game, also has videos on social media showcasing her singing and piano playing.
After catching a glimpse of Kennedy’s many talents, Minnesota State’s associate athletic director for communications, Paul Allan, asked her to emcee last week’s Maverick Achievement Awards.
“It’s not contrived,” Allan said. “Not everyone can do that. She’s naturally funny and sincere. There’s a subtlety to her humor. She’s self-confident in a good way. … Cori’s pretty intelligent about this kind of stuff.”
As a sophomore, Kennedy gained notoriety for catching in all 71 games in the Mavericks’ national championship season. Going into this year's conference tournament, she was hitting .364 with five home runs, a .545 slugging percentage and 27 RBIs. Named second-team all-conference last week along with teammate McKenzie Paap, Kennedy has 15 career home runs.
And right now, she might be the most-famous Division II softball player in the country. She recently landed an interview on a national college softball show on the ESPNU channel on SiriusXM satellite radio.
Kennedy will graduate from Minnesota State in a week, and, while a month ago, she wasn’t exactly sure what her future would hold, she suddenly has new options, thanks to her newfound fame.
A mass media major who’s currently interning at the university’s radio station, KMSU, Kennedy was recently asked to be a commentator/broadcaster for the Aussie Peppers, the new National Pro Fastpitch team that will play in Mankato this summer.
And there certainly will be more videos, too.
“I might as well take it and run with it because it seems to be a hit,” she said. “I was thinking about starting a YouTube channel — I can't believe those people out there making a living off YouTube — and I know I want to make merchandise; I have some ideas for that. …
"All this attention has opened quite a few doors.”