The Lady Scots softball team has started off their 2016 season with an overall 2-4 record. After already playing three of their most challenging matchups against Birmingham Southern, Berry College, and Emory and Henry University, the team continues into the season led by Head Coach Leah Kelley and three standout seniors.
Kelley, who took the head coaching position last spring, comes with experience. She came to Maryville College after coaching at both Chattanooga State Community College and East Carolina University
Kelley is also a veteran of the MC softball program herself, having finished her collegiate career with the Lady Scots. She is a local product of William Blount High School and is proud to call MC her home.
“I really wanted to come back and coach the school that I love and am passionate about,” Kelley said. “This is where I want to be.”
“You need to be somewhere you are going to enjoy your job every day.”
Kelley is no foreigner to the mound and has brought in leadership and experience to coach her new team. With her background knowledge of the Lady Scots and how things are done at MC, she had an advantage when it came to adjusting from her previous two years as a Division 1 coach.
“My main priority last year was getting to know the girls. I learned what pushed their buttons and what got them competing,” said Kelley. “Each team is different. Last year I learned to coach that the team and this year I am learning to coach this one.”
Three Lady Scots seniors are also bringing wisdom to the diamond this year. Kelley is backed by a trio of leaders in Emilie Craven, Megan Mihaliak and Kayla Aloisi. The three lead both vocally and by example according to Kelley.
“Kayla leads on the mound,” Kelley said. “She is a leader to our three freshman pitchers and shows them what it takes to be a successful college pitcher because it’s hard.”
“Megan is a vocal leader and when someone needs to be put in check then she is the one to do it.”
Craven has also proven to be a leader both on and off the field. During 2014-2015, she endured the long process of bone marrow donation. Craven’s donation not only inspired the campus but also her team.
“She is one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever seen,” Kelley said. “She shows these girls that you don’t always have to be the toughest to be a leader. What she did with the bone marrow transplant was just selfless and we told the girls just how special that was. She is just a good person both on and off the field.”
Craven’s donation and leadership were also recognized last season by the National Fast Pitch Coaches Association.
With such a young team, Kelley stated it was important to have such a variety in leadership. Despite the weather, the team has been preparing by repetition. Kelley stated that she hopes for the team to get far in the conference and win the championship.
The Lady Scots will step foot on the diamond at home on Saturday, Feb. 27 for their first conference challenge against Covenant College.