• 72°

Timely hits, work ethic highlights Kelley’s career

It has been an emotional time in recent weeks for Verbena senior softball player Madison Kelley following the cancellation of the 2020 softball season and all in-school activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s hard to walk away this soon, but I have complete trust in God,” Kelley said.

According to Kelley, she got a sense of how impactful the pandemic could be during this year’s county softball tournament, which was one of the last sporting events to be held on the spring sports calendar.

Despite the advanced warning, it still provided little relief as she saw her senior year abruptly cut short.

“Everybody was saying to ‘play your heart out’ because you may not get to play another game in your school’s uniform,” Kelley said. “It was all about making every moment last.”

During Kelley’s high school career, there were plenty of moments that will stick with her for years to come.

At the top of the list is the team’s magical run to the state playoffs last year.

According to Kelley, it was the first time the softball program had made it that far.

“It felt so good to make history,” Kelley said. “I remember every second of that time.”

Being a leader on the Red Devil softball squad was something she took pride in.

“I’ve always been a captain or co-captain, so a bunch of players have always looked up to me,” Kelley said. “It was exciting to be a leader for those girls.”

She proved not just to be a leader on the softball diamond but also walking the halls of the VHS as senior class president.

“Getting to know my classmates was the best part of that experience,” Kelley said.

Kelley has played every position except pitcher over the years. (Contributed photo)

As the school year approached its end, there have been several other senior-focused activities cancelled that Kelley was looking forward to cherishing.

These included the school’s talent show and the senior trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.

According to Kelley, a lot of time and effort went into raising money to fund the senior trip.

“It has really taught me to be grateful for all that God has given me,” Kelley said. “You never know when it will come to an end.”

Kelley began playing softball when she about 5 years old and has been on the varsity team since seventh grade.

“The relationships you make with your teammates is what I love, and what I’m going to miss most,” Kelley said.

She had the power to launch balls over the outfield fence and was known as a clutch hitter who came through in moments when her team needed it.

“There’s a lot of pressure in those situations, but it feels good when you can get it done,” Kelley said.

Over the years, Kelley has played every position except pitcher.

Although, that shuffling around may present problems for certain players, Kelley’s routine was never interrupted because she didn’t allow herself to get too comfortable at any position.

“I really just went with the flow and did it to the best of my abilities,” Kelley said.

One of Kelley’s sayings that she uttered to teammates on more than one occasion during practice was “perfect practice makes perfect.”

“If you practice the wrong way, it’s not helping anything,” Kelley said.

She thanked her family for instilling that work ethic in her.