Have gloves, will travel. Thats been the story of Clarissa Kellers high school softball career.
The Penns Valley standout has played a different position right field, second base, catcher and third base in each of her four seasons with the Lady Rams.
That kind of versatility has paid off for Keller, who will play for District 6 in tonights Pennsylvania Softball Coaches Association All- Star Game at 5:30 p.m. at Lock Haven University. Keller is joining a growing number of Centre County products headed to Fred Caldwells program at Penn State- Altoona.
Anybody who can play two or three different positions just gives us so many more options, said Caldwell, a former Bellefonte High School assistant, whose teams have set school marks for victories the past two seasons. Thats obviously someone were interested in.
And Keller was interested in Caldwells program, too.
I went and visited the campus and showed some interest in the softball program, she said. He contacted me and asked me about what I thought about playing in college. It was something I always wanted to do and Penn State- Altoona was where I wanted to be academically, too. It was great to get a chance to play softball.
Playing softball is not the only sport that has kept the versatile Keller busy year-round. Shes also been a starter for the Lady Ram volleyball and basketball teams and says each sport has helped her on the diamond.
Volleyball and basketball keep me in shape, but its also incorporating a lot of different skills, Keller said.
You always have your athletic stance. Youre getting low and jumping high. They all help each other out.
But from now on, itll be softball only, a bit of a foreign concept for the energetic Keller.
I think its going to be weird for me just going strictly to one sport because Im used to the three sports and playing through the summer, she said. Ther es going to be more practices up there (at PSU-Altoona), so Ill always be moving and doing something. I love softball, so it will be great.
Keller was a scrappy leadoff hitter for the Lady Rams (7-13) this past season. She came out of the gate hot with an eight-game hitting streak, batting .500 in that stretch
She also was an excellent defender at her new position. I really love third base, Keller said. It was a ton of fun this year.
She said the highlight of her career was the 15th-seeded Lady Rams 13-3 romp against No. 2 Richland (15-2) in the opening round the District 6 Class AA playoffs this season.
Penns Valley 10-runned a No. 2 seed in the district playoffs, said Keller, who singled and doubled in her first two at-bats against Richland. It was a great way to kind of send me off before I graduated.
She hopes to have more highlights at Penn State- Altoona. Keller, along with Bellefontes Jillian Musser and Bald Eagle Areas Cassondra Ross, will join the contingent of Centre County players on Caldwells roster. Last season, four former Centre County players (Brittany Smith, Kelly Chambers, Christina Stathes and Lily Glunt) started and were among the top six hitters for the Lady Lions, who went 33-12 and placed second in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference tournament.
The talent here is amazing, Caldwell said of Centre County. It makes my job a lot easier when we can get some of these girls to come down and play for us. They come in ready to go and know what to do.
And while Keller hasnt played with many of her future teammates, shes competed against them.
Theres a sense of familiarity when you get there, she said. Theres some people you know. Theres a lot of good ballplayers in this area. I think that benefits us there.
Keller is looking to double major in biology and environmental studies. She is pointing to a career as a physicians assistant.
My grandma is a nurse and theres a lot of physicians assistants, doctors and nurses in the family, Keller said. Ive always wanted to help people.
Caldwell is sure Keller will help his program. She is just really a nice kid, he said. Im thrilled to have her there.
Keller is excited to get one more opportunity to represent Penns Valley, while doing so with many new faces tonight.
This is awesome, she said of playing for District 6 against District 4. Being the only girl from Penns Valley, I think its a big accomplishment for me. Its such an honor to be playing with such great girls. All of these girls are such phenomenal ballplayers.
Notes: Philipsburg-Osceolas Hall of Fame inductees Mackenzie Gonder and Abby Peangatelli are unable to attend the ceremonies this evening and will be inducted next year. Bald Eagle Areas Lauryn Weaver will be the lone Centre County player among four inductees. ... West Branchs Leann Bell was added to the District 6 roster. ... The contest is scheduled for 10 innings and will be stopped midway through to honor the Hall of Fame inductees.
Walt Moody can be reached at 231-4630. Follow him on Twitter @wmoodycdt