Francis Scott Key sophomore shortstop Kelley Farley has played in only eight varsity softball games, but her teammates are impressed.
Like the day at Catoctin High in Thurmont when Farley blasted her first varsity home run on the "most amazing hit" senior teammate Kristi Stuller had "ever seen."
"She just crushed it," Stuller said of the team's cleanup hitter. "The ball went all the way to the fence, and it was a line drive that went over everybody's head. She ran fast but not as fast as she usually does."
Senior pitcher Megan Johnson said she has grown accustomed to Farley producing a "big hit every game."
"She's there for us with a hit, it seems like, every time," Johnson said.
Johnson called Farley "the best sophomore I've seen at Key. She can make all the routine plays and always makes that one special play."
One big play Johnson recalled came when Farley ranged far to her left to field a ground ball up the middle and threw out the runner.
Johnson also has been impressed with how Farley has been able to come in "as an underclassman and fill a key spot at shortstop." She played on the junior varsity as a freshman.
Farley's bat has helped the Eagles post a 6-2 record and No. 15 ranking in The Sun. She is leading the team in hitting with a .452 average, has four triples, one home run, and six RBIs.
Farley is one of four sophomores on a team that might be taking some teams by surprise after last season's veteran-filled squad finished 13-8.
She said she is not surprised by the team's play and could see it coming.
"I played with a lot of these girls before in the younger leagues," Farley said. "And I knew they would start coming together once they got older."
When veteran Francis Scott Key coach Joe Linthicum was asked about the impact Farley has had, he said, "Right now she's our best hitter, she's tied with Megan Johnson for the team lead as far as runs batted in, she's a very vital part of our offense.
"She's doing everything right, as far as offensively. ... She's quick. And from what I see, she's just a very natural athlete."
For Farley, it has been a successful ride from the softball fields in nearby Taneytown to Francis Scott Key, learning a lot of the nuances of the game from her summer league Tornados coach Mark Turner.
"He helped me a lot," Farley said. "He helped me learn more about the game as I got older."
While Stuller and other teammates rave about Farley's consistency at shortstop and her range, Farley plays down her defensive prowess. She does acknowledge that backhanding balls deep at short are the toughest plays she has to make.
But she seems to be handling everything as smoothly as she fields ground balls.
The biggest change from last year, she said, is "adjusting to the different pitchers and learning to be ready at all times in the field."
And getting used to veteran players giving her such high praise.