Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staffKelsey Lalor for Danny’s feature-Red Deer Bantam AAA Brave Kelsey Lalor drives in a run on a first inning base hit against the St. Albert Cardinals during baseball action at Great Chief Park Wednesday.

Lalor in a league of her own

It should come as no surprise that Kelsey Lalor is developing into one of the top young female baseball players in the country. Lalor was hanging around a baseball park before she could walk as her father, Dwayne, played close to 25 years with the Red Deer Riggers.

It should come as no surprise that Kelsey Lalor is developing into one of the top young female baseball players in the country.

Lalor was hanging around a baseball park before she could walk as her father, Dwayne, played close to 25 years with the Red Deer Riggers.

“I grew up at the ball diamond, played since I was little and I enjoy it a lot,” said the 15-year-old, who got her first taste of international baseball earlier this month.

Lalor competed for Team Alberta at the Canadian open women’s baseball championships and was one of three 15-year-olds invited to play for Team Canada in a series against Japan.

“They expanded the national team roster to 30 players and divided it into two teams,” explained Lalor, who played for Canada Red along with veteran National team pitcher Heidi Northcott of Rocky Mountain House.

Japan also fielded two teams and the Canada Red squad beat a Japanese team 10-3 in the bronze medal game, during which Lalor had two hits.

She finished with four hits in five games with three RBIs.

None of the players knew if they’d be with the national team until after the Canadian championships, but Lalor felt she had a shot at making the team.

“Last year I played for Alberta at the (U16) bantam championships and received the top offensive player award,” she said.

“National team head coach Andre Lachance saw me there and so when they said they were expanding the roster to 30 players for the Japanese series I thought I had a chance of getting one of the open spots. But then you never know. I was certainly glad I did. It was a great learning experience.”

Lalor has played boys’ baseball since she started with the game and felt the pitching she sees on a regular basis helps considerably.

“I’ve never played against women that age, but the pitching I see in bantam AAA is close to the same,” she said. “There’s a difference for sure, but I felt comfortable there.”

Lalor mainly plays infield with the Red Deer Servus Credit Union bantam AAA squad, but found herself in centre field with Team Alberta and right field with the national team.

“It was different, but I enjoyed it and now I’m comfortable there,” she said. “I do play the infield with my team, but I can work in the outfield during batting practice.”

She also spent as much time as she could watching her teammates with the national team.

“I watched as much as I could when they were at hitting and in the field. I tried to see what they do in certain situations and I was able to pick up some key things, little things that will help me.”

As for making the national squad next season, that’s up in the air.

“They usually don’t announce it until after the open championships. Next year they go to the World Championships so it will be tough, but I’m going to try my best. Some day I definitely would like to play at the worlds.”

Outside of baseball Lalor, who is heading into Grade 10 at Lindsay Thurber, plays basketball and volleyball. She was also a strong ringette player, but has quit the sport to concentrate on school athletics. She’s attending the RDC volleyball camp this summer and looks to try out for the senior team at LTCHS in both court sports. The senior girls’ basketball team is coached by her mother, Kathy.

“That will be fun,” said Kelsey, whose sisters — Hayley and Jamie — also play baseball. Hayley is also with the bantam AAA Braves while Jamie was with the Red Deer North Star Braves that just won the provincial peewee AA tier III baseball championship.

The bantam AAA Braves finished the home portion of their regular season at Great Chief Park Wednesday, losing 5-4 to St. Albert in the seventh.

Griffin Moline went the distance for the Braves, allowing five runs on six hits and no walks while fanning five.

Brad Pope had a pair of singles while Jordan Muirhead added a single and a RBI triple. Austin Hammond added a pair of singles and an RBI, Zach Olson a run-scoring single, Parker Booth a single and Hayley Lalor two walks.

The Braves play in Okotoks today and host the provincials, Aug. 2-4.

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