Baseball: A one-man wrecking machine

By Gus Bode

Mark Kelly’s hot streak hasn’t ended yet and if you watch him play you’re likely to see him on base twice during the game.

The sophomore catcher is hitting a Missouri Valley Conference best .481 with a .496 on base percentage and capped off a productive weekend at the plate going 9-for-13 with two doubles, seven RBI and one run scored in a three-game sweep of Illinois State.

Kelly is also tops in the MVC in hits with 51, RBI with 35 and total bases with 62.


Saluki coach Dan Callahan said he doesn’t expect Kelly’s monstrous numbers to be the norm, unfortunately.

“Regardless of what school you’re at or how talented you are, high .400’s are not the norm,” Callahan said. “We just want to enjoy it as long as we can and I’m happy for him. I’ve said this through the weeks that Mark Kelly is hard worker and he deserves this.”

Kelly’s league leading batting average is in front of Bradley’s Michael Curry by nine points.

But while Curry and Kelly are in a tight race for a MVC batting title, the comparisons stop there.

Curry, a shortstop, doesn’t have to deal with the physical and mental strains of being a catcher.

But don’t think Kelly’s numbers are padded because he doesn’t play everyday.

He, along with Saluki third baseman Scott Elmendorf, has started all 25 games for the SIU this season. Kelly also is fourth in the MVC with 106 at-bats.


Although Saluki pitching coach Tim Dixon is in charge of calling pitches, Kelly is in charge of relaying the calls to the pitcher and the SIU pitching staff has responded well to having Kelly behind the plate with a 2.81 ERA.

Friday starter Jordan Powell has a 5-2 record with a 3.05 ERA while Saturday starter Cody Adams has posted a 7-0 record with a paltry 1.47 ERA, which is good for fourth best in the MVC.

Both pitchers are in the top-five for innings pitched.

Kelly said his pitching staff has done a good job of hitting their spots and placing the ball low in the zone.

“I just do what I have to do, whether it be on offense or defense,” Kelly said.

And while his wins haven’t come in bunches yet, Sunday starter Shawn Joy has a 2.25 ERA along with a 2-1 record.

Joy said Kelly made an impact on the team’s 9-4 win against Illinois State Sunday.

“I felt like I got a good groove going and this guy (Kelly) helped me out a lot behind the plate,” Joy said.

Kelly has also made the transition from high school to college easier on the lone freshman starter on the Salukis’ staff.

Freshman first baseman Tyler Choate, who doubles as a starting pitcher on Wednesdays, has transferred his high school numbers over to the collegiate level.

Choate, who had a 9-0 record along with a 1.09 ERA at Carmi-White County High School, currently sports a 2-1 record with a 1.76 ERA this season.