For USF Softball’s Kelsey Lay, there really is no place like home

Sophomore infielder hopes to take next step in sophomore season

TAMPA, Fla. – Think about that one significant moment in your life that determined your future.

Kelsey Lay’s came four years ago.

For the University of South Florida Bulls’ infielder, that moment came during the now sophomore’s visit to USF’s campus.

“I just knew that this is where I wanted to be,” Lay said. “Through the whole recruiting process, I was going back and forth because I liked LSU (Louisiana State University), also. But when I went there, I realized that it was way too far.

“On the next weekend, I just knew that when I went on a visit here (USF) that it just felt like home.”

The West Palm Beach, Fla. native decided to commit to the University of South Florida, just three hours away from where she grew up.

Kelsey Lay warms up for batting practice. She appeared in 33 games as a freshman last season.

And for Lay, that sense of comfort helped propel her to appear in 33 games as a freshman including 11 starts at second base. In just 42 plate appearances last season, the former Palm Beach Gardens High School captain hit .218 BA/.353 OBP /.238 OPS while walking nine times.

Ken Eriksen, who has been the head coach of USF women’s softball for 22 years, believes Kelsey is on the right track.

“The player development when you’re 18, 19, 20 years old is not unlike being in single A or double A ball in baseball,” Eriksen told a group of reporters. “Kelsey is working her way up to double A and she’s doing a fine job in making that progress.”

But now it’s all about taking the next step – especially mentally – for Lay as she hopes to build on her freshman season.

“It’s an everyday learning deal,” Eriksen said. “It’s a lot of information gathering. The culture today now is not learning things, it’s cut and paste.

“When you don’t learn things you don’t retain things. So we’re trying to get our girls in this type of culture to learn and retain, and that’s where Kelsey’s at right now and she’s doing a fine job”

And retaining information is one of the key skills that Lay has developed over her short College career.

“Now I take what everyone says, and I really think about it,” Lay said. “My freshman year was more about learning everything – how the system works here – and now my sophomore year is just buying into it and playing the way the system works.”