The sophomore pitcher dominated in her three appearances in the circle last week for Tuskegee. Kelly went 3-0 with 19 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.24 in 17 innings of action.
“I told my team last week that I was trying to be Pitcher of the Week or Player of the Week before our season was over with,” Kelly said. “My coach came out to practice (Tuesday) and told me about it. I was really excited about it. I didn’t know that it was going to happen that soon.”
Kelly has an 11-9 record on the season. In March, she proved to be the Lady Golden Tigers’ ace pitcher as she won five out of six games in the SIAC Crossover Tournament. The B.B. Comer graduate recorded a career-high 15 strikeouts in Tuskegee’s win over Fort Valley State.
“I pitched all six games and won five out of six,” Kelly said. “I struck out 61 batters in those six games. It wasn’t really hard up there, but I still couldn’t do it without the defense.”
For her efforts in that tournament she was surprised with a letter from Sylacauga Mayor Sam Wright.
“My mom said he came up to her job and I guess she was talking about how good our softball team was doing,” Kelly said. “She told him everything that happened and he asked for my address. He wrote me a congratulations letter. I was excited about that because I didn’t think Sylacauga would do anything like that.”
Second year head coach Edward Colvin is pleased with what he getting from his No. 1 pitcher. He believes Kelly is getting better as the season goes on.
“She is a great asset to our program,” Colvin said. “Right now she is our No. 1 pitcher and she is just about starting every game. Her record should be a lot better than what it is.
“If we didn’t make a couple errors here and a couple errors there, we would have been victorious. Overall, Kelly has done an outstanding job for us this year as far as pitching is concerned. We are looking for bigger and better things from her as the season progresses on. We are looking for her to do greater things. It seems like she is getting stronger as the season goes on.”
Kelly leads the SIAC in strikeouts with 123. Colvin said he has watched her evolve into one of the best pitchers in the conference.
“Kelly only played in about 10 games last year,” he said. “We didn’t get her until actually the middle of the season and she wasn’t in any shape at that particular time. I know from the point where she started pitching last year up to this point she has improved over 100 percent.”
The Lady Golden Tigers (13-13,10-8) are currently in third place in the Western Division of the SIAC. Tuskegee has won four consecutive games. Kelly believes the team is starting to click on all cylinders.
“We didn’t start out that well in conference,” she said. “Like our coach says ‘champions have to go through a couple losses some time.’ Ever since we had a team meeting about what we wanted out of the season, we have been working hard trying to improve our record as we get ready for conference play. Ever since we had that talk, everything has been looking up. Everybody has been working together.”
Tuskegee is currently six games behind conference leader Stillman in the standings.
Tuskegee went 0-4 in a weekend series with Stillman early in the season. Out of the 34 runs Stillman scored in that series only 14 were earned.
Kelly believes her team can beat Stillman if they play without committing an error.
“We can beat everybody on our side,” Kelly said. “Stillman is our toughest competition, but we can beat them. We played them, but it didn’t turn out that well that weekend. We definitely can beat them. We committed a lot of errors when we played them and our bats were not up.”
The occupational therapy major believes this weekend’s series with Miles will help them going into the tournament.
“We play Miles on Friday and Saturday,” Kelly said. “That is going to be good competition. They play pretty much like us. The next weekend we play Lemoyne Owens and that is pretty much laid back. We will have a laid back week going into tournament play. I think we will be all right when we get there.”