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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

UMKC's Kelley a Budding Superstar, but Quick to Shed 'Star' Label

If you're a frequent reader of our Weekend Roundup feature, you'll likely recognize the name Katie Kelley. She's been featured as one of our Performers of the Week twice already this season, and the odds are in her favor that she'll show up there again before 2015 is done.

Yet despite her abilities as a "hitting pitcher" (or pitching hitter, if you prefer) and being just three home runs behind the nation's leaders, the chances that you've heard Kelley's name on a television broadcast or on ESPN.com are rare. And she's perfectly fine with that.

"I came to UMKC to play softball, not to get nationally recognized," she said. "I go out with my team on a daily basis to workouts and practice with the same goals as them. We want to win, we don't care how we do it or who on our team is responsible for it, but we want victory. I find that playing for a mid-major team has allowed me to develop even deeper relationships with not only the players, but also the coaches. These relationships will be what give us the opportunities to win as a cohesive unit... my number one goal for myself would be to keep consistently performing like I am to assist my team in achieving our goal of a WAC championship."

It takes a special kind of person to be the unquestioned breakout star on a team, yet continue to defer praise and share credit with other members of the team, but that's exactly what Kelley does. Her athleticism is frequently on full display, as she leads her team in ERA and innings pitched in the circle as well as home runs and slugging percentage at the plate. Her eleven home runs would put her in a tie for 17th in the nation, but still just three roundtrippers from leading the nation in the category.

A two-time all-conference selection (all-WAC in 2014; all-Summit League in 2013), there's no question that Kelley is a star. So how does she keep that success from getting to her head? Channel it to create even greater success, of course: "I actually find it more beneficial to take my success and let it roll over into future games," she says. "I find that the more confident I am going into a game, the more successful the turn out is. On the other hand, when I do under perform it is essential that I have a hard week of practice to give myself the chance to work through my struggles and give myself time to flush out the memories."

Although the Roos haven't started the season on the best note (15-14, #160 in RPI), you can expect to see Kelley's name again sooner rather than later. Still just a junior, she's got plenty of time to continue impressing and don't be surprised if she winds up in a professional softball uniform.

An incredibly exciting player, she has a great talent and is truly a budding star, whether she wants credit and recognition for it or not.

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