Harper putting the hurt on opponentsPublished 3:42pm Thursday, June 6, 2013
It didn’t take long for Brandywine softball player Kelly Harper to be put in a pressure situation last Saturday at the Division 3 district tournament.
In the first inning of the semifinal game against Buchanan, the Bucks intentionally walked No. 4 hitter Michaela Hartline to load the bases with one out.
Harper was next in the batter’s box.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen that happen,” said Harper about having a batter before her get intentionally walked. “I was really nervous and trying to clear my mind and, hopefully, put the ball in play.”
Harper delivered in the clutch, hitting the ball solidly to right field and producing a sacrifice fly to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead. It was part of a three-run first inning in a game eventually won by Brandywine, 4-2.
Later in the day, the Bobcats beat Bridgman, 11-9, to clinch the school’s first district title since 2005. Brandywine (29-10) next faces Bronson (32-4) in a regional semifinal this Saturday at noon at Centreville High School.
Brandywine softball coach Angela Mellott was confident that Harper would deliver against Buchanan.
“I knew Kelly would hit a high shot in the air and we would get in one run or maybe more,” said Mellott. “It was a smart move by Buchanan. Michaela hurt them during the regular season.”
Harper has also done her fair share of hurting to opponents this season. The sophomore standout is batting .505 with 11 homers, 11 doubles and 47 RBIs. Harper leads the team in batting average, homers and RBIs and is tied for second in doubles. All of her homers have gone over the fence. She hit three in a regular season game against Bridgman.
Since she was 5-years old and playing in the youth softball program at Fireman’s Park, Harper has punished softballs with her swing.
“I’ve always had natural power and been able to execute hits,” Harper said. “My coaches have also given me guidance and taught me the right way to bat.”
Mellott is impressed with Harper’s intelligence.
“She’s aggressive and wants to learn,” Mellott said. “She analyzes things and waits for the pitch she likes. I have high expectations for her.”
Good health has also helped the talented third baseman excel this season. Harper broke her left foot twice as a freshman and had to have surgery on it in February 2012. She was healthy enough to play 26 games on the varsity softball team in 2012. She batted .329 with two homers and 13 RBIs. She also hit six doubles in her 70 at-bats.
Harper is now healed and part of a winning softball team.
“It feels great,” Harper said about her foot. “It’s not hurting at all.”
Harper and a talented lineup have helped the Bobcats become Lakeland Conference champions for the first time since 2007 and post their first winning season since 2008.
“This season has been eye-opening to see the talent on the team and that if we work together we can win games,” Harper said. “I hope we can go far in the state tournament.”