MAKING HER MARK - Braves short-stop Kelsey Lalor, 19, is currently the only female ‘AAA’ baseball player in the province of Alberta. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

Red Deer athlete Kelsey Lalor only female in ‘AAA’ baseball league

Lalor’s goal is to play on the Team Canada women’s baseball team

A former Lindsay Thurber High School student and current two-sport athlete in basketball and baseball, Kelsey Lalor, is currently the only female in Alberta playing Midget ‘AAA’ baseball for the Carstar Braves. An experience which is tailoring her for a successful career with the Team Canada women’s baseball team.

“This is a great opportunity for me – especially when I go to a world championship or a national tournament,” the 19-year-old said. “It really prepares me for that and getting to play at this level proves that girls can play ball.”

Competing against males, who generally have physical baseball advantages over female athletes, has allowed Lalor to further develop her game.

“Lots of the guys now are bigger, stronger and faster,” she said. “Even the guys that aren’t as fast, they are typically faster then I am. Technically I have to be better to keep up to them.”

According to the Braves’ Coach Dwayne Lalor (Kelsey’s father), Kelsey has had the luxury of playing with this group of Braves players since her earliest days in Red Deer Minor Ball.

“Just like all of the other players, she has become more comfortable playing the game,” he said. “The plays are becoming easier to make, but there is still that normal player anxiety when you don’t get the play or when guys get on base. Her development in terms of being able to handle the bat – her strike outs are decreasing and her number of hits are going up. Those are really good indicators.”

Dwayne noted that Kelsey typically does not want to play any position on the field that is away from the play.

“On the defensive side, she plays a variety of positions for us,” he said. “Early in the season, she has been playing a lot of short-stop for us. That will change as we go along – she will get some outfield time, as well as some second base. Those are all potential spots she will play on the women’s team. On that team she has primarily been an outfielder. She is throwing the ball better, her hands are getting better and her running speed is steady. She is a decent runner in our game and above average in the women’s game.”

According to Dwayne, there have been several instances of females playing ‘AAA’ in Alberta, however there have been few examples in the last few years.

“In the province of Alberta, it is fairly rare,” he said. “Kelsey has been the only ‘AAA’ midget player in Alberta in about the last decade. There have been a lot of time without any females in midget ‘AAA’. She is in a good spot here. She grew up playing with these guys in mosquito, pee wee and early bantam. In those leagues, she was the power hitter and for the guys on our team – she is not Kelsey the girl, she is Kelsey on our team.”

Kelsey did mention that she has dealt with some misogyny in her career, however it has never come from her own teammates.

“Playing in a league where I am the only girl presents challenges, but it has never really been a problem. I play with some great teammates and I have been really lucky to play with this group of guys,” she said.

Dwayne added that stigma to a female in ‘AAA’ baseball is rare, however he has noticed a few things.

“When she pitches, the guys on the other team will take a lot of heat if they strike out,” he said. “If she hits a double off a guy, their team will ride him a bit for ‘giving up a double to the girl’. She has heard it enough, her teammates have heard it enough and they kind of laugh about it.”

He added, “She seems to take an inordinate number of walks”, which he credited to her patience in the batting box.

Kelsey is hoping to continue her career with the Women’s National Team, as well as her career on the basketball court with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

“I would love to keep playing for the Women’s National Team for a few more years for sure,” she said. “I probably won’t get a chance to play pro because there are so many people, but one of my teammates is playing in a western college league. If I got an opportunity to do something like that in the summer – that would be really cool.”

Her father agreed.

“Her opportunities have been huge with national teams so she doesn’t want to give that up, but she spends a lot of time on the basketball court as well,” Dwayne added. “With the National Women’s Team – every other year there is a world championship tournament. So far she has got to play in Japan and Korea in too of those. She also played in the Pan-Am Games. She did all of that while she was in high school. This year is a non-world championship year, so Team Canada is going on a tour with Team USA down to Maryland and Washington D.C. The Women’s National Team is a place she can play until the youngsters bypass her.”

Kelsey feels her time on the baseball field can be an example for young girls playing the sport.

“I think so, especially for girls playing in a sport where they are the gender minority,” she said. “I am an example they can look at and see that there are opportunities. The game of women’s baseball is growing throughout the world. Girls can look up and say, ‘Okay, I’m not the only person who has done this before.’”