2022 Daily Local News Softball All-Area Player of the Year – Kelly Fricker

WESTTOWN >> West Chester Rustin made program history in 2022, winning a second consecutive American Ches-Mont Division Championship before claiming the first District 1, Class 5A softball crown. In a Golden Knights team full of talent, Kelly Fricker stood out again.
Fricker put together an incredible season, earning sophomore shortstop honors as Daily local news Softball Player of the Year.
Anchoring Rustin’s infield with incredible shortstop defense, Fricker scored the Golden Knights’ offense with his bat. Fricker had a county-high 54 hits, nearly twenty better than the area’s second-highest total, including 18 for extra bases. Batting .581, Fricker hit twelve doubles, three triples and three homers, scoring 42 runs and hitting 24 in the process. Impressively, Fricker hasn’t hit once all season.
“Kelly is an absolutely special player in every facet of the game,” Rustin’s coach Dennis Becker said. “She’s the brightest player I’ve ever coached in high school. Her work ethic and drive to be the best is second to none.
Fricker started playing tee-ball at the age of six, first playing in the recreational league, Wildfire. At nine, Fricker got her first taste of travel balloon three years later, with Pegasus Fastpitch, then switched to Chaos at 13. Fricker is currently a member of the Chaos U-16 national team.
“When I was younger, I mostly played second base,” Fricker said. “I moved to shortstop in 7th grade and have played both middle positions since then. I have also played and still play in various outfield positions. For travel softball, I play both infield and outfield.
Although softball is her first love, Fricker is an athlete. For the past two years, she has played volleyball for the Golden Knights and more recently got into CrossFit.
“CrossFit was a game-changer for me,” Fricker said. “I think if my sister, Rachel, hadn’t introduced me to the sport, I wouldn’t be anywhere near the softball player I am today. I had always been a smaller person growing up and never had the strength to hit the ball over the fence. I’ve always been jealous of home runs and wanted to build the strength I needed to do the same.
The atmosphere and environment surrounding CrossFit is perfect for an all-around athlete.
“I joined CrossFit Explode, which is a CrossFit gym in West Chester,” Fricker said. “I owe CrossFit Explode and its community so much credit. I have never been part of a group of people who cared so much about each other and really wanted to see each other succeed.
But it will always come down to softball.
“I think my favorite thing about softball is the work ethic you have to have to be successful in the sport,” Fricker said. “I also like the team spirit. If you want to be successful, there is no way you can be selfish. I think those two things are also important skills to learn in life outside of softball.
As a player, Fricker emphasizes the mental aspects of the game, both as a personal strength and for what she considers an underrated part of the sport.
“I think my biggest strength as a player is the joy I get from the sport,” Fricker said. “When I’m happy on the diamond, I play the best. Every player needs confidence on the pitch. Softball is such a mental sport, so if you have confidence, you will succeed.
Asked about a favorite memory of a Rustin season full of big games and wins, Fricker’s love for the sport shines through, thinking first of a non-league end-of-season game which, in the grand scheme of things , didn’t really mean much to either team – A Rustin comeback win over visiting Villa Maria.
“My favorite memory of this season would have to be the Villa game,” Fricker said. “Going into the 7th inning of this game, I could feel the momentum coming from our side and I knew we were going to score those runs. Once we equalized in the bottom of the 7th, I knew there was nothing we couldn’t achieve in the season.
Including forming bonds that will last a lifetime.
“I’ve been playing with a lot of girls on this team for a really long time,” Fricker said. “Overall, this whole team has had a huge impact on me and will absolutely be one of the most memorable seasons I’ve ever had.”
Fricker doesn’t forget his coaches either.
“I can’t say enough about Coach Becker and Coach (Nicole) King,” Fricker said. “They both care so much about every girl on this team, and without that support we couldn’t have gone as far as we got. As we went through the season, we grew together and we became a family at the end of the season.
No athlete ever gets far without great support at home, and Fricker gets that in spades from his parents, Steve and Reen. His father played baseball at Millersville College, and although his mother did not play sports, she taught valuable life lessons that carry over to sports,
“Both of my parents motivated me to work as hard as I could, but never pushed me to continue with anything I didn’t like,” Fricker said. “They both continually remind me that if I ever stop loving the sport, it’s not worth being unhappy about. Mental health comes first. They had the perfect balance of strict and fun while still being two of my best friends. They taught me to be a good person first and always to be nice to everyone.
The 2022 softball season is therefore in the books, but will be remembered for a long time.
“I would just like to thank Rustin Softball for the most amazing season ever,” Fricker said. “I also want to thank everyone who has motivated me to work hard and supported me through all that I have done – my family, my friends, my Rustin and Chaos teammates and coaches, my community CrossFit Explode and my hitting coach Julia Popovich, I love you all!”