Sometimes you just know. Kelbie Crelia did.
The freshman left-handed pitcher from Early had no doubt when she first visited Weatherford College that it was the place for her.
"I chose Weatherford College the exact minute I pulled up to the college for a visit," she said. "I see myself as extremely lucky because I was always told that you just know that you will have a feeling when you visit the place you’re going to end up.
"I experienced that exact feeling."
And, as she says while smiling, once she makes up her mind about something...
"The summer going into my senior year of high school I broke my tailbone sliding into home plate at a select tournament in Houston," she said. "I played outfield in the next game and went home. The next day I woke up and went to the hospital and found out it was broken and that I had a lot of nerve damage.
"That Thursday I got on a plane and went to California for a tournament, which was probably one of the most painful trips of my life. My doctor had told me I didn’t need to do anything for six weeks. Obviously, I had trouble listening."
That grit and toughness, however, helped her to enjoy a very successful high school career on the field and in the classroom. She was first-team All-District four straight years and was named 6-2A MVP as a senior in 2013. She was also All-Big Country Player of the Week several times, named to the All-Big Country Team, and was Texas Girls Coaches Association All-State as a senior.
Her team advanced to the state tournament her freshman season and went three rounds deep in the playoffs each of the next three years.
Oh, and she was two-time Academic All-District.
Kelbie began playing softball at a very early age, something that started out of her admiration for her older brother.
"I have been playing softball since I was four," she said. "I started playing softball because my big brother played baseball and I wanted to play ball just like him."
Coming from a small town and playing for one of the nation’s elite programs was quite the adjustment, Kelbie said.
"It is pretty much daylight and dark softball-wise. Weatherford is a huge town to me, and playing for WC is an absolute blessing," she said.
"I am so extremely blessed to be a part of this program. Coach (Haylee) Williams and Coach (Chris) Flanagan are absolutely phenomenal, and I know that I wouldn’t be doing half as good as I am at the moment if it wasn’t for them giving me a shot and for them just showing that they truly believe in me."
Kelbie has given the team plenty of reason to believe in her. At the time of this article, she was 8-2 with a save and a 2.05 earned run average.
Being left-handed has also been a bonus for her, although she doesn’t focus on that.
"I have always been told that being a lefty gives me an advantage. Personally, I think it may help just because the spin on the ball is different," she said. "However, I know some people that don’t even notice whether the pitcher is left or right-handed."
On those rare occasions when she’s not playing softball, Kelbie likes to fish and hunt.
"There really isn’t that much free time being a college athlete," she said.
Kelbie believes the Coyotes can make a return to the NJCAA Championship Tournament. That, and the fact that she is having a blast at WC, is why she hasn’t focused on what’s next after her time as a Coyote is done.
"I honestly haven’t thought much about what I plan on doing after WC," she said. "Right now I am just focused on the next game and getting a ring."
WC softball sweeps Hill, heads to postseason
The Weatherford College softball team wrapped up the regular season with a 4-3, 6-3 sweep of Hill College at Stuart Field Saturday. Next, the Coyotes head to regionals this weekend in Longview.
Bailee Wortham earned the win in Saturday’s game one, allowing three runs over seven innings. She struck out two, walked one and surrendered nine hits. The Fort Worth Western Hills product also went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored.
In game two, Lauren Gunter brought home the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the sixth inning. Carlie Jenkins went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Weatherford (28-21 overall, 18-14 conference) will enter the Region V North Tournament as the fifth seed. The Coyotes will play at 2:30 p.m. Friday at LeTourneau University, with the opponent to be determined. The double-elimination tournament runs from Friday to Sunday.