The Womens’ College World Series this year saw a great career come to an end.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to have seen Kelly Barnhill pitch dozens of times.
The first time I saw here up-close and in-person was at a pitching clinic hosted by her pitching coach to showcase her best athletes. I think she was a seventh grader, and she was special. Over the next handful of years I saw her pitch in travel ball and high school and grow from a hard throwing wildcard to a very successful pitcher who would lead her teams to championships.
Over the past four years, thanks to the great coverage of the SEC on ESPN and the SEC Network, it has been my pleasure to see Kelly throw about 20 games. I have seen her dominate the competition on many a day and I have also seen her shoulder the responsibility of giving up the game losing home run.
Tim Walton gave a very impassioned talk about all that Kelly has meant to the Florida program and the game of softball. His emotion was evident as he talked about his senior pitcher and her teammate Amanda Lorenz. I know Tim, and he isn’t always the touch- feely kind of coach, so seeing his emotion talking about these two said a lot.
Coach Walton made point of talking about all that Kelly accomplished during her career because the elephant in the room is not all that she has won but the fact that she never won a national championship. I think he was frustrated by the fact that people were discounting all the accomplishments and wanted to focus on the negative. He was adamant that Kelly Barnhill is a winner and should always be remembered as one.
Kelly Barnhill joined a very select group. One of the greatest pitchers to never win the national championship. Who else is in the club? Monica Abbott, Cat Osterman and Christal Williams, all Olympic gold medal winners.
Pretty good company, if I have to say so myself!!
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.