ANDERSON, Ind. — Nearly a year ago, Seth Kelley was just one of many parents in Portland, Ore., watching his daughter compete in the Little League Major Softball World Series.
He watched from the stands as his daughter, Emma, and her teammates on the Riverfield Major Softball All-Star team took the Indiana State title before making their way through the Central Region Tournament, clinching a berth to Portland along with several teams from all around the world.
Today, as Riverfield begins its quest to claim another Indiana state title, Seth will have a much different vantage point. He will feel even more pressure when players other than her daughter go to the plate.
This post-season tournament run, he isn’t just Emma’s father; he’s her team’s manager.
Today, Riverfield will face the District 6 winner from South Bend at 2 p.m. in Lebanon. They will play three more games before Sunday in pool play, and the top four teams will advance to two semi-finals games played Tuesday at 2 p.m. with a championship game at 5 p.m.
Riverfield’s manager, along with Emma, Rachael Duncan, Kalin Hubble and Myrcle Settles all had the opportunity to experience the atmosphere and the pressure in Portland last year, where the team finished fourth.
Seth said that last year’s team had some girls who displayed some remarkable leadership and helped launch Riverfield past the state and regional levels. Yet, one thing this season’s squad has that last year’s didn’t is experience at the highest level to go along with a core of 10 girls who have been playing together on travel teams since they were seven or eight years old.
“It’s huge,” Riverfield’s manager said. “It’s probably the difference between winning state championships and not. Teams we’ll face in the state, and if we happen to get past the state tournament and get farther into the post season, every team has that group of girls who have been playing together for a long time.”