Dulaney displayed a ‘passion for the game’
As a young high school softball player, it can be difficult knowing that you’re stuck behind a key player and that you’re going to have to wait for your time to come.
Kelly Dulaney didn’t get frustrated by the wait. She used the time to her advantage and worked on becoming a better pitcher so that she could take advantage of the opportunity when her time rolled around.
Before she reached high school, Dulaney was catching the eye of Parkland head coach Barry Search, who has played a key role in helping to produce the long line of Parkland pitchers who have had success. He remembers her dedication and how coachable she was when he first got to know her when she was a seventh grader.
“We have a pitching program to develop young pitchers for our program and Kelly was always there and always working,” said Search. “She was really passionate about pitching and about playing softball, more so than a lot of other kids at that age.”
Once she reached high school, Dulaney continued to soak in all of the coaching she could get and stayed ready even though her chances were few and far between as Aubree Fritzinger owned the Trojan pitching circle in those days.
While she had plenty of ability, Dulaney remained undaunted by her lack of opportunities, knowing that her time would come once Fritzinger graduated.
“I really wanted to be out there, but I understood that I was behind Aubree and I just had to wait for my junior season when I figured I would get the chance to pitch,” said Dulaney. “I didn’t let it frustrate me, because she was so good and it was great to be a part of those teams and be around that atmosphere.”
Once Fritzinger headed for De Sales University, the job was turned over to Dulaney. The team continued its string of conference titles in both of Dulaney’s two seasons as the starter. The Trojans also added two district titles with Dulaney on the mound.
In her junior season, her first as the team’s starter, Dulaney burst onto not just the Lehigh Valley softball scene, but received recognition state-wide from the Pennsylvania High School Softball Association as the Class 6A Pitcher of the Year.
Parkland reached the state finals with Dulaney leading the way with a 21-4 mark and a 1.22 ERA. She also struck out 155 hitters while walking just 17.
Dulaney took it up a notch this past season with a 23-3 record and impressive 0.86 ERA. With basically the same workload as in 2018, she struck out 205 batters.
“I knew that I really wanted to pitch well this season,” said Dulaney. “It was my senior season and we had a pretty young team and there was a lot of energy around the team. I really wanted to make it a great season, so I had a little more determination coming into this last season.”
While there may have been a little more determination on her part, Search still kept seeing the same young girl that pitched in those early pitching camps and was passionate about what she was doing.
“She always wanted to be out there and just loves pitching,” said Search. “When you look back on when she was a sophomore and wasn’t getting to play, it’s really surprising for a kid that young to have not shown frustration considering how much she loves to pitch. Every time she went out there, she was passionate about what she was doing and she always gave us a chance to win.”
Dulaney will continue both her academic and athletic careers close to home at Kutztown University and she plans on keeping close tabs on the future teams at Parkland.
“I know that the girls that are there are going to step up,” said Dulaney about the team she leaves behind. “I have a lot of confidence in them and they’ve worked hard, so they’ll be really good again. It will be nice to be able to catch a couple of games and stay in touch with everybody.”