Saluki trades jersey for lab coat as career ends

Saluki trades jersey for lab coat as career ends

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

Saluki softball played its final game of the season Sunday at Charlotte West Stadium, and on Saturday the team bid farewell to its five seniors. 

Center fielder Kalyn Harker took her final regular season at-bats with the Salukis and finished her senior year with the Missouri Valley Conference batting title. 

Harker finished the regular season with a .466 batting average in Valley play. She said her last home game at SIU was bittersweet, but the title was the perfect way to end her career at SIU.


“I am finishing a great career and it’s something I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life,” she said. “I’m moving on, going to grad school, and becoming a big girl, an adult.” 

When the MVC Tournament ends for the Salukis, so will Harker’s softball career. After majoring in biological sciences, Harker was admitted to the physician’s assistant program and will begin in June.  

She said she hopes to work with kids when she is done with the program. 

“I want to work in a hospital somewhere, hopefully in neonatology,” she said. “I really like the little kids and babies.” 

Neonatology is a subspecialty of pediatrics consisting of medical care for ill or premature newborn infants. 

Harker said she is not tied to southern Illinois and will go anywhere she can get a job she wants. 

Senior pitcher Katie Bertelsen, who is Harker’s roommate, said the two were not close freshman year but became friends when both needed a place to live sophomore year. 


“It’s been a journey with [Harker], I love it,” she said. “We both didn’t have a roommate so it was kind of a ‘You want to live together?’ kind of thing.” 

They have lived together for three years now. 

Harker and Bertelsen both have leadership roles on the field as center fielder and pitcher. They both said their communication off the field leads to success on the field too. 

“It’s huge. I can trust her, I can count on her for everything,” she said. “She’s a leader and she takes control. She’ll go after everything, and she makes all kinds of plays.” 

Bertelsen said the two are polar opposites. While Harker fills her daily planner out to perfection, Bertelsen scribbles. 

The opposition is perfect for them, Bertelsen said.

“She’s OCD about stuff, and I’m like ‘Oh, that’s OK, whatever, I don’t even care,'” she said. 

Terri Harker, Kalyn’s mom, said she is happy with the choice of SIU for the connections she has made but also because of coach Kerri Blaylock. 

“She has had everything from stitches in her chin, a broken hand and kidney stones,” she said. “[The staff] has taken her to the hospital and taken care of her like she’s their kid.” 

Terri said it is easy to see Kalyn move on because of how excited she is for her professional career.

Currently, Harker has career totals of a .308 batting average, 102 runs, 39 extra-base hits, 53 RBIs, 198 total bases, 10 stolen bases and 3 errors. 

Brent Meske can be reached by email at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.