Kelsey Dotson and Kendra Marshall bring much more to the table than just the stellar skills the pair possess on the softball diamond.
The duo of former Warsaw standouts share quite the love for the game.
In fact, the only thing the terrific twosome may enjoy more than competing is a love of giving each other a hard time.
The two talkative and talented recent WCHS grads really do remind one of sisters when it comes to how they treat one another off the field.
The pair of All-State performers, who are in reality as close as can be despite all the “friendly” banter that goes back and forth, get one more chance to suit up as teammates June 23. Dotson and Marshall will play for the North All-Star team in the ICGSA North-South All-Star games at the Cherry Tree Softball Complex in Carmel. The first game is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. with the second game to start 30 minutes after the completion of game one.
It’s only fitting that the Tigers’ pair of “Special K’s” will be on the same side one more time.
“I’m pretty excited to play and I think it’s going to be cool,” said Dotson in an interview Thursday at WCHS. “I’m not sure what it will be like, but we’ll see how it goes. It’s one last time to play on the same team with Kendra before we go our opposite directions. That’s cool too.”
Marshall is also looking forward to the chance to play with Dotson one final time.
“It’s going to be bittersweet playing with Kelsey for the last time,” admitted Marshall Thursday night. “Besides my Mom, she’s my best friend.
“This is a pretty big honor and a pretty cool thing. I just hope to have fun and for some good competition. I also want to win. I don’t lose well.”
The Tigers, who were 19-10 overall and 11-3 in the Northern Lakes Conference, didn’t do a lot of losing this spring thanks to its pair of premier players.
Catcher Dotson, who will play at IU, batted .554 with 12 homers, 16 doubles, 37 RBI and a slugging percentage of 1.205. The No. 3 hitter struck out just three times in 83 at-bats, drew 23 walks and scored 50 runs. Dotson, who was the top vote-getter in the region for All-State and All-Star honors, was first-team All-State as a junior and ranks third all-time in Indiana history with 35 career homers.
Marshall, who played shortstop and hit cleanup, really had a breakout senior season. The Valparaiso University bound Marshall hit .531 with 10 homers, 16 doubles and 46 RBI. She scored 32 runs and struck out just two times in 96 at-bats with a slugging percentage of 1.031.
“These two just get it,” said Speicher, a former fast pitch standout player and a catcher himself. “I loved the game and that’s how they are. They love it and they play it at a high level.
“It’s going to be a culture shock without them next year. The numbers are irrelevant really. It’s all the other things the two of them brought to our team such as leadership, confidence, enthusiasm, playing the game the right way. Those things you can’t replace.
“They are two of the best players I’ve ever seen in this area. Kelsey always wanted to make the big play and she fears nothing. She’s the best catcher I’ve ever seen. She could play on some of the baseball teams in this area with her arm and bat.
“Kendra really had a great senior season. I really admire the way she handled everything. She played in Kelsey’s shadow a lot and didn’t always get the recognition and credit she deserved. She just did a great job with all that and played at a high level.”
Marshall, with a laugh, admitted that she was not always fond of her teammate.
“I really didn’t like Kelsey at first (when we met in 6th or 7th grade) because I thought she was too cocky,” explained Marshall. “Then, the summer before my freshman year I finally gave her a chance and talked to her. Since then, she’s been my best friend.”
Dotson, who was scheduled to play in a tourney in Jasper this weekend with her Indiana Shock Waves 93 travel team, recalls several things from her prep career.
“I just loved playing games here (at WCHS) since we have the best facility anywhere,” said Dotson, who spent 23 hours on the field over a three-day span this past week working the softball camps at IU. “I loved facing Newell (former Goshen and current Bethel College pitcher Natalie Newell) and I loved freshman year when opponents still tried to run on me. I was proud to hit over .500, but the No. 1 thing is I’m proud of my arm. It will always be my No. 1 thing for me. I just always tried to do my best and raise the bar.”
Dotson, who possesses a cannon for a throwing arm, threw out two base runners attempting to steal this season. Only three even attempted to run on the star the entire season (29 games).
Marshall, who was at orientation this past week at VU, has fond memories too.
“Freshman year was really cool when we were the only two freshman on the team,” recalled Marshall. “And this year we really came into our own. It was so fun to see the level of play go up.”
Both stars plan to have a busy summer before heading their separate ways to Bloomington and Valparaiso come August. Dotson plans to work, play in tournaments every weekend and follow her training regiment give to her by the Hoosiers. Marshall will play with her travel team (the Indy Dreams), continue to train locally at Poe Performance in Warsaw and continue to take hitting lessons at Notre Dame.
Dotson and Marshall will have plenty of company from the area as teammates for their All-Star experience next Saturday. The roster for the North team also includes Brittany Wingard (Northridge), Alanie Sroufe (Rochester), Kathleeen Kavanagh (Mishawaka Marian), Ariel Sheets (Mishawaka Marian), Cassie Boocher (South Bend Riley), Jillian Busfield (South Bend Riley), K’ya Toles-Burton (South Bend Adams) and Cassie Vodde (Columbia City).