We Asked, They Answered: Pat Kelly
The University of Nebraska, Lincoln baseball team started the season 0-7 and have already faced three ranked teams in Cal State-Fullerton, Texas and University of California, Irvine. The Cornhuskers are 11-8 since, including a 5-1 record in conference play, and Red Wing native Pat Kelly is second on the team with a .336 batting average and a team-leading five doubles to go along with 13 RBI.
During Nebraska's weekend sweep of Northwestern Friday and Sunday in Lincoln, Kelly went 8-for-19 despite batting 0-for-9 in the Cornhuskers' 10-9 16-inning victory on Friday night. He finished 4-for-5 in each of the next two victories.
The Republican Eagle recently caught up with Kelly to talk about the current season and his first season with Nebraska, one that saw him named a Freshman All-American.
What did the team learn from the opening stretch of the season against top competition?
It's really getting us ready for conference play. Coach Darin Erstad scheduled games against the top teams in the country and where we want to go you've got to be the best. You've got to play those teams to get there. You can learn a lot from those teams. It's going to help us in the long run with Big Ten play and we saw some really good pitching.
On the negative perception of baseball in the Big Ten ...
There's nothing wrong with the Big Ten. People underestimate it a lot and people say it's not a good baseball conference but that's false. There's a lot of good baseball in the Big Ten and there's a lot of good teams. Everybody gets after it every weekend.
What was it like getting named to the Freshman All-American team?
It was just playing baseball and it was just at a different level. Right away, it definitely took some time to get used to the speed of the game.
I adjusted to the pitching fairly quickly. I'd seen that type of pitching before and that definitely helped, and using a wood bat in a summer league definitely helped.
It was just getting used to the play on defense, I kind of struggled to start but then I picked that up toward to middle. I fit in comfortably. Put in hard work and the results came.
How do you deal with the higher expectations?
It's the same game, different year. You've still got to get after it and work just as hard. Right now, I'm not hitting as well as I'd like to be but the hits will come.
We're starting to win some baseball games and that's all that matters right now to me. As long as we're winning, I'm happy.
What did you work on in the offseason?
I hadn't played a whole lot of second base before last season, so really fine-tuning that last summer and in the fall. It was really working on my turns and getting my timing down there.
How much contact have you had with your cousin Ryan Boldt about his future decisions?
(Ryan and I) text back and forth every once in a while. Right now, he might not even know so I kind of stay away from that question on what he wants to do but I know he wants to be a Husker and it would be awesome to play with him for a year or two down here.
How often do you send him "Go Big Red"?
I send him "Go Big Red" often. You gotta just put it in his mind and never let him forget that one.
What is the family dynamic like with all the success you've all had?
It's fun. The whole family has done well and it makes it fun for everyone. I can't imagine what it'd be like with him down here and everyone coming down, it'd be really fun. Every home series is a family reunion.