Date: April 26, 2013
When Haylee Power, Kelsey Knight and Sami Jo Kelly were teammates at Bolton High School, all were regarded as college prospects and destined to play at the "next level". (When Power was a senior at Bolton in the spring of 2009, Knight was a sophomore and Kelly just a freshman.) The possibility of them ever being teammates again seemed distant until Power was unable to continue her softball career while recovering from a knee injury while at Austin Peay State University (APSU) in the fall of 2009. In a roundabout way, the former Lady Wildcats were reunited as teammates at Southwest Tennessee Community College in the fall of 2012 and all three were starters for the Lady Saluqis softball team this spring.
The first to join the team was Power. After attending APSU for two years (and not playing softball), she contacted Lady Saluqi Head Coach Keith Gentry in the spring of 2011 with hopes of joining the Southwest team. "Though not playing at Austin Peay was difficult, everything happens for a reason," said Power. "I knew I had to play again because softball is one of my passions and Southwest was the best choice. I am really glad I chose to go to Southwest and continue my education and my softball career."
"I don't know what we'd have done these past two years without Haylee," said Gentry. "She was our top hitter and pitched just about every game as a freshman (winning a school-record 25 games) and has pitched and played first base this year. Ever since she joined us, Haylee has always been one of our hardest workers and most competitive players on the team."
With two freshmen pitchers this season, Power doesn't have to pitch every game which she's very thankful for. She still leads the pitching staff with eight wins, a 3.15 earned run average, 76 strikeouts, and as a hitter leads the team with 11 home runs and 43 runs batted in. "I am glad we could bring a little of Bolton's ‘Viciousness' to Southwest," said Power. "It has been a great experience to play with some of the same teammates for so long. I love my Wildcats and it has been an honor to represent Bolton at Southwest."
Freshman first baseman/outfielder Sami Jo Kelly signed with the Lady Saluqis in January, 2012 and enrolled at Southwest last fall. "When I signed with Southwest, I was really nervous at first because I was afraid of being alone," said Kelly. "But when I met the players, they welcomed me from the start. We are like sisters and have each other's backs no matter what. I love this team and I am really glad I decided to play."
Kelly is one of the team's top hitters this spring with a .306 batting average, five home runs and 32 runs batted in. One of her home runs came against nationally-ranked Walters State and she recently hit two homers in a series against Dyersburg State. "While she's was already an accomplished first baseman when we signed her, Sami Jo has also developed into an outstanding outfielder who has done a good job at that position when needed," said Gentry.
Freshman infielder/outfielder Kelsey Knight originally signed with conference rival Columbia State before changing her mind and enrolling at Southwest in the fall of 2011. She then had to sit out last season due to a conference transfer rule. "I did not know what to do with myself. I had not had time off from softball in years and I did not like it," said Knight. "Playing softball without Haylee and Sami Jo would be weird. It is all I have ever known and we are like a little family."
Knight returned to the field in the fall of 2012 and made an impact on the team. "It took a couple of weeks for Kelsey to get back in the swing of things after not playing for a year," said Gentry. "But once Kelsey got going she has shown that she needs to be a regular in our lineup." Knight has been one of the Lady Saluqis' top hitters during the final few weeks of the season and carries a .289 batting average with 14 runs batted in.
"I'm definitely very pleased to have all three on our team this year," said Gentry. "They come from one of the top programs in the area at Bolton High and were coached well in high school by Coaches Pam Parker, David Dotson and Kay Dotson. They've brought that winning mentality to our team this season."
Photo caption: Haylee Power
Photo caption: Kelsey Knight
Photo caption: Sami Jo Kelly
For more information contact: Keith Gentry, (901) 333-4114, firstname.lastname@example.org, Farris Bldg., Room 1002, 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134