The Pilgrim softball program has become a Division II contender the last few seasons, and the continuity provided by a host of mainstays has been a big reason.
The Pats said goodbye to one of the steadiest mainstays of all this past season.
Kelsey Johnston played in every one of Pilgrim’s 88 games in her four years with the program, and she started 68 consecutive games at third base. All the while, she was a consistent producer in the lineup, finishing with a .360 career batting average and what’s believed to be a school-record 65 RBI.
“The last few years, third base and the third spot in the order have just been set,” said head coach Bill Aquilante. “We just plugged her in every time.”
Johnston got an opportunity to play varsity as a freshman and forced her way into the starting lineup.
“Going into it, you don’t know what to expect,” Johnston said. “I had always just kind of played for fun. Once you get to know everybody and become part of the team, you really get into it.”
Johnston really became a key player as a sophomore, when she hit .330. In 2013, she hit .345 and helped lead Pilgrim to its best season in years.
This season, a younger squad had an up-and-down season. Pilgrim was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. But individually, Johnston had her best year, hitting .471 and staying consistent all the way. She also hit a milestone when she knocked her 100th career hit.
“I just always tried to stay focused,” she said. “Anytime you get down, you have to keep your head up. My dad was at 99.9 percent of my games and he always reminded me of that. It really helped me.”
Even though a playoff run wasn’t in the cards, Johnston and fellow senior Caitlin Blanchard had nothing but positive memories.
“I know Kelsey was really proud of her career,” Aquilante. “She put in the work and it paid off.”
Johnston will attend CCRI next school year and hopes to play for the softball team in the spring.