- Alma School District
Alma’s Shepherd enjoys final softball season- 04/08/2021
By Kevin Taylor
Kelsey Shepherd savors every minute, of every pitch, of every play.
Softball is life. (Or, at least, a very big part of it).
"Some of these girls, I've played with them since I was 10 in travel ball," she said. "Since it's my senior year, it kind of makes me sad, because this will be the last time I'll ever be in a uniform."
Shepherd, who was a member of Alma’s Drumline, plans to enter the medical field following her May graduation. In the meantime, she's making up for two lost seasons — the one COVID took away last spring and the summer ball schedule that never materialized.
"We only got to play two games (in 2020)," Shepherd said. "It was really heartbreaking. This season, being able to play a whole season is really exciting. We didn't even get to see each other last year."
COVID didn't just bench Shepherd's high school team, it also sidelined her summer plans.
"We didn't even get to play in the summer," she said.
Despite the break, the Lady Airedales carried a .409 team batting average into Thursday's non-conference clash with Pottsville. Alma has clubbed 59 extra-base hits, including 11 home runs.
Not that the silence from 2020 goes unnoticed.
"Everybody that plays softball, it puts everybody a year behind," coach Charla Parrish said. "Those that play summer ball, they got that part of it in, (but) they might not have gotten as many games in. either."
Looking back, Shepherd grins when asked about her freshman season. Her first recollection of Parrish made her concentrate that much harder.
"My freshman year, I was actually kind of scared," Shepherd said. "With all the upperclassmen, I was like, 'Oh, you've got to really be on top of your game.'
"Throughout the years, she's been a really great coach. If we mess up, she knows we can do better, so that's why she pushes us so hard to be good."
Alma's starting catcher latched onto softball back in intermediate school. Before she knew it, she was hooked.
Senior catcher Kelsey Shepherd is currently hitting .320 for the Airedales’ softball team.
Her blonde hair protruding from her catcher's mask, Shepherd uses her cat-like reflexes to pounce a ball rolling toward third base. Whirling and throwing, Shepherd makes the play with ease.
She isn't a bad hitter, either.
Through 19 games, Shepherd is hitting .320 with a pair of home runs and 15 runs batted in. Shepherd's also been plunked a team-leading seven times, which only adds to her .500 on-base percentage, third-best on the team behind Taelynn Perry (.600) and Bailey Webb (.509).
"I've been playing since I was 5 years old," Shepherd said. "All throughout my life, softball's been a part of me. This softball team is a family. We play together all the time; we practice together."
Shepherd's family softball roots run deep.
"Softball's really the only sport I went and played every single summer," she said. "It just became a habit; it didn't feel normal to not go to a tournament on the weekend. I played volleyball and basketball, but I just wasn't gravitating toward them like I am with softball."