Softball: Countryside counts on senior Keisling

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Wed. March 20, 2013 | Bob Putnam | Email

Softball: Countryside counts on senior Keisling

Hailee Keisling whacks shots down the third-base line. She smacks balls into the outfield gaps. She taps grounders, beating out the throw to first.

Most of all, she just get hits.

The Countryside senior has developed into the county’s most consistent hitter. In the past three seasons, she has had at least one hit in all but three games.

Last year, Keisling built upon an impressive streak that started the year before. The hits kept coming, so much that Keisling had a hitting streak that extended beyond 30 games.

By then, there was pressure as the streak built while playing every day. It ended after 39 games.

“I really didn’t know I had any kind of streak going until some of my coaches figured it out,” Keisling said. “Then it was in the newspaper, and that’s when I started to know it and feel a little more pressure.”

Since then, the hits have kept coming. This season, Keisling has hit safely in 13 of 14 games. Her batting average (.566) ranks second in the county. She ranks seventh in RBIs with 17 and is tied for third in stolen bases with 12.

Her all-around offensive game is a big reason the Cougars have the county’s best record at 14-1 and are in first place in Class 7A, District 10.

“Everything has gone about as well as I could ask for to start the season,” Keisling said.

Despite all the hits, it took a while for Keisling to get noticed by colleges.

“It’s hard because you have to be in the right place at the right time,” Keisling said. “You can have all these hits, but if no one is there to see them it makes it hard to get noticed by colleges.”

In February, the anxiety was quelled when Rollins offered a scholarship.

“I just had to have a lot of trust that everything would work out,” Keisling said. “It did, and I found a great place to play.”

Now the attention is on helping the Cougars not only win a district title but also advancing far in the playoffs. Last year, Countryside lost in the region semifinals to Chamberlain.

Keisling is doing it with her bat — and her vocal cords. Before, Keisling led by her play. This season, she knew she had to be more outspoken as a veteran.

“Hailee has stepped up in so many ways,” coach Kaylyn Bayly said. “We all knew she could hit. But she has really become a vocal leader as well.”

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