After setting her share of records with the Aquinas softball team and becoming the school’s only All-State softball player, senior Kelsey Baer is headed for a new challenge. She signed last week to play for the Concordia University Nebraska softball team at Seward.
Concordia coach Todd Lavelle came to Aquinas last week for the signing ceremony, joining Baer and her parents, Julie Kriz and Tom Baer. Concordia turned out to be a good fit for her future, Kelsey said.
“When I went on my visit, I got the feeling. It felt like it was a good fit for me not only on the softball team, but a place that I can figure out my future,” Baer said.
She will begin her studies in nursing, but has left the door open for other possible majors.
She credited much of her development to Aquinas coach Paul Gahan.
“I see the transition going pretty smoothly. The only hard part will be getting to know a whole new team, but I look forward to it. I have learned a lot from and believe Aquinas softball has prepared me,” she said. “Paul has taught a good worth ethic to me and it will carry over.”
Gahan said he was pleased to have coached Baer.
“Kelsey has worked hard to become a complete softball player. She is a very talented offensive player. She showed some promise as a freshman, hitting about. 315,” he said. “Her productivity slipped during the sophomore season. Prior to her junior year, we made some adjustments and changed her approach at the plate. Kelsey had outstanding Junior and Senior years, hitting about .480 and .435, respectively.”
Baer broke numerous pitching and offensive school records.
“Kelsey became Aquinas' first and only All State softball player. I hope this achievement will inspire our current players to push themselves to realize their potential,” Gahan said.
The coach also praised Baer’s “great support system” with her family.
“It is a big step going from high school softball to collegiate softball,” Gahan said. “With a strong work ethic and high level of commitment, Kelsey Baer has an opprtunity to become a very fine college softball player.”
LaVelle has coached the Bulldogs since 2013. The team set a new record for LaVelle’s career with 34 wins in 2017.
“We are definitely going to use her as a pitcher, and we are also very excited about how she hits the ball. She’s right up there at the top of Class C,” LaVelle said. “My philosophy is to be in every game you have to be able to hit the ball.”
Baer is in the top five of numerous Aquinas records categories, but she is first in RBIs for a season, knocking in 33 in 2016; first in career RBIs at 90; first in career home runs, 15, and top home run hitter for the past three seasons, hitting 7 in 2015. Her season batting average of .480 in 2016 is second on the chart, and this year’s average was .446. In pitching, her career record of 43 games may stand for a while. She is second in career strikeouts at 289.