Beyond the game: Kelli Baker, junior second baseman

Sports Reporter

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Leadership, consistency and work ethic set Kelli Baker, junior second baseman, apart from the rest as a trailblazer her team can depend on.

Assistant Coach Cat Osterman said Baker is a model athlete mentally and physically. 

“I think the biggest thing about Kelli is that she approaches every day with consistency,” Osterman said. “For us that’s huge because the younger players need to see someone doing that.”

Baker is coming off two consecutive seasons with 56 starts each for the Bobcats.

The outfielder-turned-infielder finished the 2014 season with 57 hits, 39 runs scored and a .328 batting average.

Baker, an Atascocita native, had success early in her softball career, lettering all four years in high school. Baker earned recognition as the 2009 District 19-5A Rookie of the Year and had three Best Offensive Player awards. She was named First-Team All-District three times.

Coach Ricci Woodard said Baker’s variety of strategies is one of the most important parts of her offense.

“What’s helped her the most since her freshman year is she’s become a smarter hitter,” Woodard said. “She can take the inside pitch and drive it out of the yard, and now she’s learned to hit the outside pitch just as hard. She’s also been working on her short game. She can put the ball down, slap the ball and move runners over.”

Baker is just as reliable defensively.

She committed only 11 errors at second base with three seasons under her belt.

Baker understood her role as an upperclassman to lead by example before the start of the 2015 season.

“I feel like not only myself but all the upperclassmen have a job to do,” Baker said. “We have to go into practice every day working hard and show the freshmen what’s expected.”

The Bobcats are 25-19 overall, and Baker has continued to be a leader in production. She is hitting .338 with 50 hits, 20 runs batted in, eight doubles and four home runs.

Baker said the mental game has been the focus of the off-season, and the practice has helped in her approach to every pitch. She wants to stay within herself and accomplish what is expected of her.

“She puts the same amount of pressure on herself in practice as she does the game,” Osterman said. “When an athlete can learn that trick pretty early, they're going to have a lot of success ahead of them.”

Follow Donavan Jackson on Twitter at @djack_02