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Patton inks letter to play softball for Lansing CC

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New Castle High School softball pitcher Kelsie Patton fires the ball toward home plate during a game in Sectional 24 last May at Hamilton Heights High School. Patton has made a commitment to play softball at Lansing Community College in Michigan starting in the 2019-20 academic year.
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Last Friday afternoon in the Fieldhouse, New Castle High School senior softball player Kelsie Patton inked a letter of intent to play softball for Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan, starting in the 2019-20 academic year. From left to right in the front row are sister Karlie Patton, mother Michelle Patton, Kelsie Patton, father Dusty Patton and brother Coleson Patton. In the back row, from left to right, are Lansing CC softball Assistant Coach Bill Cross, Lansing CC softball Head Coach Marc Kibby, New Castle softball Head Coach Jeff Theobald, and New Castle softball Assistant Coach Ron Baker.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

New Castle High School senior softball player Kelsie Patton appeared in only 11 varsity games as a sophomore and in all 23 as a junior, but apparently that was enough to attract the attention of colleges in need of her services.

Last Friday afternoon in the Fieldhouse, Patton inked a letter of intent to play softball for Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan, beginning in the 2019-20 academic year.

“It’s a small school that will allow me to get my feet wet playing college softball, and it’s only about three hours away from home,” Patton responded when asked why she chose Lansing Community College. “They also have a good softball program that has won their conference the past two years and has gone to the national finals. They’ll have several girls as sophomores leaving the program after the coming season, and that will give me an opportunity to step in and pitch as a freshman.”

Patton knows that she’s going to college for more reasons other than to just play softball.

“I plan to major in radiation technology,” Patton remarked. “After my two years in Lansing, I want to go to a four-year school, get my degree, and also play softball. I want to be a radiologist as my occupation.”

Lansing Community College Softball Coach Marc Kibby was at the signing and talked a bit about how Patton fits into his program.

“We’re really excited having Kelsie join our program,” Kibby remarked. “She’ll be a fine addition to our pitching staff. We try to protect our pitchers at first, but I imagine she’ll get to play first base for us some, too.

Kibby said Lansing CC is ideal for women who want to continue their softball careers at four-year college or universities.

“We play both a fall and spring schedule,” Kibby stated. “In the fall, we play 20 to 25 games against teams like Michigan State, Wayne State, and several Division II programs. This gives those four-year schools an opportunity to see our players and make connections with them in possibly joining them for two more years of college.”

During her sophomore season of 2017, Patton was the No. 2 pitcher for the Trojans behind senior Gabby Perdew. That season, Patton appeared in 11 games of a 13-10 season, and had an ERA of 4.76 in 42 2/3 inning pitched and a 5-2 record. She yielded 46 hits, 39 runs (29 earned), walked 39 batters, and struck out 51.

In Patton’s junior season last spring, she was New Castle’s No. 1 hurler and played at first base when she wasn’t in the circle. At bat, Patton had a batting average of .175 with 10 hits (including a double) in 57 time at bat, had two RBI, and scored two runs. She tied for the team lead in walks received with nine.

While pitching, Patton faced some really tough teams in the Hoosier Heritage Conference, including two-time state champion New Palestine, and had a 5-11 record and 6.12 ERA in 17 appearances in the circle. In 88 IP, Patton allowed 139 hits, 101 runs (77 earned), walked 46 batters, and struck out 72.

Patton uncorked 12 wild pitches and hit 12 batters and had a .976 fielding percentage in an 8-15 season which saw the Trojans progress all the way to the sectional championship game before being nipped by a run by Yorktown in the finale.

New Castle softball Coach Jeff Theobald was pleased with Patton’s choice of a school.

“It all boils down to going where you’re comfortable and are happy,” Theobald said. “A lot of players who have Division I talent go to Division II, Division III, or NAIA schools to play and get their degrees and there’s nothing wrong with that. Kelsie’s plans are to eventually go to a four-year college, and this is the path she’s chosen to get there.”

Theobald is pleased with Patton’s development in his program.

“Kelsie has improved every year,” Theobald said. “Her record doesn’t indicate how good she is because we haven’t managed to score enough runs for her when she pitches. She has a good fastball and rise ball, and needs to work on her change-up or off-speed pitch. It should be about five to seven miles per hour slower than the fastball. Disrupting the timing of hitters is the key to success in pitching in college.”

Theobald lauded several characteristics of Patton that he feels will make her successful.

“She has a tremendous work ethic, is competitive, and is willing to listen to coaches and do the necessary things to get better,” Theobald noted. “I’m sure Lansing will get her in the weight room more than we have because you need to be strong in the legs to be successful as a collegiate pitcher.”

Kibby, now in his eighth season at Lansing CC, talked a bit more about his program, primarily its spring season.

“We start playing in March,” Kibby added. “We play in the MCAA, which has both East and West Divisions, and we’ve won our conference the last two years and gone to the national tournament three straight years and five times since I’ve been here. Our best finish there has been seventh. We’ve made trips to play in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Columbus, Georgia, so we get around. We play 50 to 60 games every spring, and last spring we were 38-12.”

Patton is eager to begin the next step of her life, but realizes she still has the 2019 softball season at New Castle yet to play.

“Our goal is to go to state this coming season,” Patton added. “That would be a great way to cap my high school career.”