By AARON MANAGHAN
As long as she can remember, Kelsey Anchors has never been a fan of country crooners.
“That’s funny. When I was younger, I would always say, ‘I don’t like country music, I don’t like country music,’” Anchors, an Olympic senior, said. “But I think I’ll warm up to a little more of the country in me.”
The reason is simple: On Nov. 14, Anchors, a standout softball player, signed her letter of intent to continue her career on the diamond for the Oklahoma State Cowgirls.
“It’s a good feeling,” Anchors said of not only signing with OSU, but also of ending the recruiting process. “It’s good to finally get it out of the way. It’s kind of relaxing now.”
Initially courted by more than 30 colleges and universities around the country, Anchors spent more than a year weighing her options, finding 15-20 of the suitors as serious contenders. While she eventually trimmed her list down to OSU, University of Oklahoma, University of Washington, North Carolina State and Purdue, Anchors knew she made the right choice as soon as she put pen to paper.
“It’s a big relief off my shoulders,” she said. “At the signing party, my dad said, ‘You ready to do this?’ I just had to break down and cry. But I’m glad it’s over.”
But really, for Anchors it’s just about to begin.
The standout outfielder, an All-Olympic League first-teamer the past two seasons, hit .478 as a sophomore and improved that to .576 last season. Heading into her senior season, Anchors already holds school records for hits, runs, doubles, triples, stolen bases and slugging percentage for both a single season and for her career.
“It’s flattering to hear that I’ve broken a lot of records,” Anchors said, indicating she looks forward to seeing them fall to future Trojans. “And I’d be flattered if they did (break my records).”
Also a starter on the school’s girls soccer and girls hoops squad (Anchors opted not to play hoops this season to focus on getting ready for softball), Anchors has more athletic ability than most could dream of. Not only is Anchors an all-league outfielder, but her athleticism and versatility means she can hold her own pretty much anywhere on the diamond, including behind the plate.
“Kelsey is a kid who can beat you in so many ways,” OSU coach Rich Wieligman said. “She’s a left-handed slapper who can bunt and steal a base or hit a home run. She also plays an excellent outfield.”
Wieligman said he expects Anchors’ class of recruits to help lead OSU, with six College World Series appearances, back into the limelight.
“This class addresses some of our needs to build Cowgirl softball into a Big 12 contender and compete on a national evel,” he said. “I am very excited with the addition of these players to our softball family and the future of OSU softball.”
Initially, it was a tough selection process for Anchors, who took into consideration everything from the basics, like program histories and softball facilities, to university academics, location and the schools’ campuses themselves.
“I just looked at it to where the
program that fit me best is where I wanted to go,” she said. “From the other schools, a lot were really spread out. A lot were like, 20 minutes to walk from classes. And a lot was how I could see myself at the school and with the girls on the team.”
An unofficial visit last fall gave Anchors all the insight into those aspects of life as a Cowgirl and more.
“When I walk on to the campus, it just kind of feels right,” said Anchors, who took the trip with her dad Dusty. “I turned to him and I just couldn’t stop smiling. When I took that unofficial visit was when I knew it was Oklahoma State.”
But her assurances didn’t rest on a simple gut feeling alone.
“The coaches were big,” she said. “And everything is right there.”
OSU’s campus, located in Stillwater, is just a little more than an hour from Oklahoma City.
That, combined with the state’s heat and the team’s state-of-the-art facilities (Cowgirl Stadium opened in 2000 with significant 2004 additions), had Anchors feeling confident that OSU was the right fit.
“You don’t have to travel more than an hour,” she said. “And I’m definitely going to welcome the heat.”
But there was one more thing that sealed the deal.
“Not only did the sports facilities come into my mind, but they’re big on football,” Anchors said. “I love to watch football.”
During an October official visit, Anchors said her experiences validated what she already knew.
“We got to stay with the girls in their dorms,” she said. “It worked to where you got to hang out with the team. That was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”
Her future teammates made her feel right at home, Anchors said.
“They were a lot like the girls I hang out with now,” she said. “They’re just down to earth, easy to get along with.”
While her time spent with select teams like the local Diamond Dusters, Bellevue’s Absolute Blast and most recently the Washington Lady Hawks prepared her on the field, she said it was the help of coach Scott Centala both on and off the diamond that helped her make her decision.
“I’d talk about a coach and he’s like, ‘Oh I know them,’” Anchors said. “He’s probably one of the biggest people that have helped me. Let alone my parents (Dusty and Lori). They’re who guided me. They knew what to do at the right times.”
With her senior season fast approaching, Anchors said she hopes to leave Olympic on a fun and memorable note.
“I’m planning on having fun with it,” she said. “We lost a lot of seniors last year. Now, we have a lot of seniors this year. We’ll just see what happens. I’m hoping we’re going to do really well. I’m just looking for it to be a good experience.”
She said her time both in Olympic’s classroom and in the weight room and on the fields has helped her prepare for the next steps in her academic and athletic futures. But she still has some work to do that way too.
“I want to go into the medical field for a major, but I’m not really sure what specialized thing I want to go in to,” Anchors, also a student athletic trainer at Oly, said. “Athletically, just working out more.”
After all, the game changes a lot at the NCAA Division I level.
“The competition change, everyone says it’s a lot different,” Anchors said. “I’m looking forward to facing pitchers that throw 70 mph, seeing if I can handle it.”
While her experience may or may not put her in touch with her inner Cowgirl, she said there’s one thing she can assure friends and family in her home state of.
“Everyone says I’ll be back with an accent, but I don’t think that’ll happen,” Anchors said with a laugh.