Athlete of the week: Anna Grace Keller is enjoying a breakout season with the Tigers

Published 5:39 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2023

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Anna Grace Keller is making her presence felt on the diamond for Troup in 2023.

After transferring in as a sophomore last year, Keller did not receive much playing time, but now a junior, Keller has had to play a much bigger role this season.

“This year has been much more exciting because I was new here last year, and I wasn’t getting a lot of playing time,” Keller said. “The coaches didn’t really know what I had last year.”

Keller is one of the team’s starting pitchers, where she makes her bread and butter, but she also brings another bat to the order despite her lack of confidence at the plate.

“I have my ups and downs with hitting.” she said. “I feel like I can bring a lot of power from the plate when I am not in a slump.

“I have been in a pretty big slump this year.”

Despite not being at her best from the plate, at least by her standards, she has hit .267 with four RBIs (T-2 on the team) in just six games. She also has a triple to her name as well.

One place she does not lack confidence is the mound. Keller has been stellar to start her junior season.

Keller has pitched the second most innings on the team (15 1/3) so far this season and leads the team in ERA (2.74) and strikeouts (18).

Playing an important role on Troup’s softball team was not even something on Keller’s radar in her freshman year. Keller attend Flint River Academy which had a completely different atmosphere on and off the diamond.

“To go from a school where there was nine girls on the softball team to a school where you have to try out is a big difference,” Keller said. “I was excited for the competition.”

Keller did not have a big role on the Troup team when she first got to Troup in her sophomore season. She pitched just a shade over six innings, but she did shine at the plate in 14 games, hitting .300 with eight runs scored and three RBIs. 

She did her due diligence in the offseason to earn an every day role on this year’s team.

“I am able to handle pressure, and I don’t really get bothered by what the other dugout says,” Keller said about her maturation over the last year. “I honestly like performing under pressure.

“I have gotten more confident with pitches, and I have picked up some speed.”

One of the reason’s Keller never wavered last season despite her limited playing time was the leadership of the class of 2023. Last season’s seniors, especially starting pitcher Maggie McDonald, had a monumental impact on Keller adjusting from life at a private school to life at a public school.

“I loved all the seniors from last year, they did a lot to help me,” she said. “Maggie was a leader and a really good pitcher for the team. I was able to learn a lot watching her.”

All of the watching, learning and play time last year and this year built up to a big performance from Keller to lead the team to its first region win of the year, 14-1 over Starr’s Mill. 

She went 3-for-3 with four RBis and two runs scored from the plate while pitching six innings in relief, striking out 10 and not allowing a single hit.

“I’m always prepared to do what I have to do to help the team, and I expect the same from them,” Keller said. “I was really excited to come into that game and help.

“It ended up being a really good region win for us.”

While she is more than capable of starting, having already earned two starts on the season, Keller feels even more confident coming on to the mound in relief.

“I love coming in to relieve someone,” Keller said. “It is always more pressure, and everybody is counting on you to pick the team back up. I really coming in under pressure.”

Life at Troup is what Keller knows now. She traded in the black and gold of the Wildcats for the blue and gold of the Tigers and has no regrets about it.

“It was a really big change, but it was just what I needed,” Keller said.