Act of Lalor

Age is only a number.

Yet it seems weird to think that a 20-year-old baseball player could be considered a “veteran” on a team. However, that’s the situation Red Deer’s Kelsey Lalor finds herself in.

The outfielder has already been a part of Baseball Canada’s national women’s team for five years. This year marked her third visit to the Women’s Baseball World Cup and she once again made a name for herself with her bat and her glove, earning a spot on the All-World Team as Canada won a bronze medal.

Lalor added to her mantle when she got home when she was named the Women’s Open Player of the Year by Baseball Alberta in November. She last won the award in 2016 and was recognized with the Bantam Girls award in both 2012 and 2013.

Just because winter has set in doesn’t mean Lalor is taking a break either. She is back at school and playing basketball for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. That’s where we caught up with her for an interview on Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast.

Q: Kelsey, it’s been a heck of a year for you. The first thing is, from your standpoint, what sticks out as the highlight for you?

A: I think that the highlight of 2018 is probably getting to beat the Americans in the bronze medal game in Florida (Women’s Baseball World Cup). It was just a really amazing game to be a part of and it’s always really cool to play them and  beat them on their home soil. Yeah, just being involved in that game was incredible.

Q: It had to be a weird rallying moment for you guys, in a sense, because you lost the previous game so you were playing in the bronze medal game instead of the gold. How do you get up for a bronze medal game, or was it pretty easy with that group?

A: Yeah, it’s pretty easy. It’s always an incredible opportunity to play the World Championship and when you’re playing for a medal you always want to do your country proud and so, especially going and playing the Americans like that, it’s never a tough one to get up for.

READ MORE: Unfinished Business

Q: For you, it was a tournament to remember. What sticks out for you, or what was the key to being as good as you were for that tournament?

A: Well, I didn’t start off the tournament that great. I went 0-for-2 in my first game but I talked to my coach and we just talked about trying to stay within myself and just using my skillset for what I can do on the baseball diamond. Going out there, competing for my teammates every day and when I go up to the plate, not trying to do too much. Just stand back and swing it and get a base hit.

Q: Talk about “The Catch.”

A: Hahaha! Yeah. It was pretty cool. It was a nice moment in the tournament for sure. We were just right with the Aussies and then we just pulled ahead so it was good timing on my part.

Q:  Was that one where it looks better than it felt at the time. Because I know that replay can be a little mischievous but you seemed to know where the ball was going as soon as it came off the bat.

A: Yeah, I knew where it was. I knew it was short. It’s one of those ones where you get a good jump on it and you think you can get there. But when you actually get there it’s a pretty good feeling.

Q: What was the difference between 2016 and this year, other than the outcome, obviously?

A: I think as a player, for myself, just knowing that I had been there before and just having that experience. I just trusted what I could do more and I knew what I was up against this time around. Even though the level of play keeps getting bigger and better and there are more players now in the talent pool, it’s just continually getting bigger. It’s a much easier feeling going in there knowing that you’ve been there before and what you can do and can think of it as just another baseball game.

Q: What did you take away from the fact that Alberta had quite the diverse contingent? You had a couple of rookies and you had a couple of veterans like yourself and Nicole Luchanski. What does that say about the Alberta product and what do you think the future has in store for the women’s game here in this province?

A: I’m really excited, especially with all of these young girls coming through our program. It’s really cool to be able to watch them. Most of them are younger than me so I saw them when they were little and now to see them grow and play with them is definitely a cool feeling. But that group we have, it’s such a strong group and there are a lot of them so it’s really awesome to see that the game is growing. It’s becoming a lot more competitive, too. So the future of women’s baseball in Alberta is looking pretty bright right now. We have a lot of really talented young players and there’s a whole bunch more coming up through our provincial system, too.

READ MORE: State of Alberta’s Game

Q: Is it weird to be thought of as an inspiration or a hero to some of these younger girls? I mean, like I said, you’re pretty young yourself and still going through university.

A: Yeah, it’s definitely a cool feeling to know that, especially when I get to play with them. Even to think I’m someone that they can look up to and someone that they can come to if they’re struggling or anything like that just because they know I’ve been there. But it’s a pretty cool feeling when you go work with the younger girls in the province at the Girls’ Day in Baseball all over and they’re just so excited to see that there’s a future for themselves in the game. It’s also pretty inspirational for me that they’re that excited about everything. Like I said, the future of women’s baseball is looking good for us right now.

Q: What does it mean to you to be named the best women’s player in Alberta as you were in November?

A: It’s a huge honour. I mean, I play with some incredible players on that team. Nicole Luchanski is huge. She’s been such an incredible teammate to me and just to be able to play with her and see how much time and dedication she puts in has really had a big impact on my game. Even some of the younger girls are making big waves on the national stage. So yeah, it’s a huge honour. It was just a great year for us overall so to rally with that group of girls and just to have an incredible group of teammates just makes playing all the more fun.

Q: What’s the key for you to be able to play, not only baseball at a high level like you do, but also playing basketball in university? How do you manage to keep your skillset strong in both sports and be able to manage the time and everything else that is involved with being a student?

A: It definitely gets tough at times. I’m pretty lucky in the fact that the competition seasons don’t overlap. So that’s huge for me to be able to play both. I would like to be able to put more time into baseball when I’m here in Saskatchewan during the offseason and I would love to put more time into basketball when I’m home in the summer. But I try to do as much as I can to get work in every day for both sports. It gives me something to do and keeps me busy. But yes, it can definitely be a challenge at times.

Q: Has that been something you’ve always done, even when you were a little kid: playing multiple sports? Or is that something you’ve picked up along the way?

A: No, I’ve always been in lots of sports. It’s something I really enjoy. My parents got me involved when I was young and then I kind of stuck with it ever since. Being a multi-sport athlete has been a huge part of my growth and development, not only on the athletic side of things, but also as a person. Just having that diverse skillset is really important.

Q: Why do you think you caught on to that aspect? How did that all come to be and why is that so important in your mind?

A: Both of my parents are high school physical education teachers. So for them, it’s been nice because they have seen kids that have grown up playing multiple sports and how it’s been extremely beneficial for them in the long run. They were always super-supportive. I have two sisters so my parents were always driving us from one thing to the next. They definitely played a huge role in where I am now. They got me to everything on time, they were driving and dropping one of us off, then would come back, pick us up, take us to the next thing and so it sometimes got a little crazy running all over the place. We didn’t really see each other that much (laughs) but I’m extremely thankful for everything they have done.

Q: How did you get into baseball?

I’ve just been playing ever since I was young. My parents signed me up when I was little. Like most people, you just start when you’re really young and then you just kind of grow up into it. I guess I was different than most girls because I didn’t end up switching to softball. My dad is a really, really big baseball person, so that was a big impact and just the fact that he’s been there to support me and that my mom has been behind me 100-percent of the way. They have supported me in achieving these goals that I’ve met here in the past couple of years has been huge for me as an athlete.

Q: Who do you look to for inspiration, whether it’s in baseball or in life? Who’s your big motivator?

A:  Luch (Nicole Luchanski) is a big person for me on the diamond. I’ve had the opportunity to play with her for the past few years. Just to see how much time and dedication she puts in is really, really incredible and makes you take a look at yourself and see what you’re doing to be able to compete and play with her. Off the field, my parents obviously have been huge. They’re always there for me, always supporting me. They try to make it to absolutely everything that they can and they have just done so much over the years to ensure that I could do everything I wanted to do athletically.

Q: Looking ahead to 2019 now, what’s on your bucket list? What would you like to accomplish in the next twelve months?

A: First and foremost: try to win basketball national championships here in Saskatchewan. That’s going to be a big focus right now. After that, once I head home, it will be just trying to fine-tune a few things. There are some things I learned from this past tournament. I need to work on a couple areas of weakness that I definitely want to improve. It will be nice to go home this summer and really have the time to work on those because this is an off-year for us, as we’re not in a world championships year. I just want to try and improve my game as much as I can so I can go back to that tournament and do everything a little bit better.

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