By RYAN MCCRACKEN on November 13, 2020.
Mia Kelly was all smiles when she put pen to paper Thursday afternoon at Medicine Hat High School.
Surrounded by friends, family and coaches, the Grade 12 softball pitcher committed to a future on the diamond in NJCAA Division 1 by signing a full scholarship with the Salt Lake Community College Bruins.
“It just feels awesome that all these people who support me and I love are here to celebrate this with me,” said Kelly, who will attend SLCC next fall. “Thanks to Hat High for putting this together for me, I think it’s great.”
The Bruins are getting quite the arm in Kelly, who boasts a varied arsenal of six pitch options. Coach Dianna Jordison, who has been working with Kelly for the past few years, says the young arm is more than capable of keeping hitters off balance with every pitch at her disposal.
“When you’re going to college you definitely need to start working off the plate – you don’t really want anything down the middle – so her drop ball is killer,” said Jordison. “She has an amazing screwball, so that comes inside on a player, she’s working on her rise ball. Everything is working really good – curveball, drop ball, change-up – she’s doing really well.”
That flexibility on the rubber made Kelly a highly sought-after prospect, but after fielding multiple offers, she decided Utah was the perfect fit for her future. The Bruins have reached the NJCAA finals in eight of the past 10 seasons and finished as runner-up in two of those years – with any luck, Kelly might be able to push them over that hurdle.
“I think that Salt Lake City was the best fit for me because it was geographically awesome for my family and me to get down there and everything. Their program is just awesome, and they have great girls from everywhere around America. That’s also really cool for me,” she said. “I’m planning on taking education and they have a really good program down there for me, too. It’s just awesome.”
Kelly has been pitching for six years, and in that time she’s etched quite the name for herself on the diamond. She’s helped guide the Medicine Hat Thunder to a handful of provincial medals, as well as a silver medal in Grande Prairie League Softball. The promising pitcher earned a spot at the Alberta Summer Games in 2016 and 2018 – where she also earned the honour of banner carrier for her zone – and has garnered awards for Medicine Hat Minor Softball Association’s high school player and Thunder player of the year.
But it’s not just Kelly’s control or power that set her apart from the pack. As Jordison points out, the young pitcher puts in countless hours working with young players at Swanny’s Baseball and Training in Medicine Hat and consistently sets a positive example for her students and teammates alike.
“She’s always there with a big smile on her face and she always includes other athletes. She always comes working hard and she makes the best of it every single practice,” said Jordison. “She loves coaching, too, so it’s really awesome to see her put back into the community. I think that’s definitely what separates her from a lot of athletes as well.”
Although COVID has prevented Kelly from visiting the Salt Lake campus in person, she says she’s been keeping in touch with her new coach and plans to head south for a visit as soon as public health guidelines allow.
“They were supposed to have a signing party in November and I can’t go down there because I’d have to quarantine when I come back,” said Kelly. “I’ve just been talking to the coach about some certain things.”
For the time being, it’s business as usual – pitching, coaching and planning for her future as a Bruin.
“Right now she’s throwing a couple times a week, we’re going to move that up to four times a week,” said Jordison. “I’m so proud of her. It’s so exciting and she deserves it. She put in the hard work.”