Sitting on the couches in the Titan baseball clubhouse, wearing a red sweatshirt adorned with white letters displaying “Peppers,” black leggings and black sandals, Kelsey Kessler lifts up her right hand — the one she pitches with day after day for Cal State Fullerton softball (17-15).
On the side of her fourth finger is a red tattoo of the ace of hearts. She smiles, recalling how it came to be: 2015, her friend’s birthday, a tattoo shop. Her friend got “IX,” her softball number, tattooed, and urged Kessler: “You gotta get something! You gotta get something!”
“Okay,” Kessler said, shrugging her shoulders, flashing a wide smile. “Why not?”
That’s how she pitches: she goes with the flow, she stays in the moment and she’s not afraid of anything. Her calm demeanor in the circle almost looks like she isn’t even trying, like she isn’t even there.
“It almost looks like it’s too easy for her,” said Tori Tyson, CSUF’s pitching coach.
But the 5-foot-10 Kessler is so locked in — so in tune with the count, the batters — a reflection of the hours of work she put in prior, that by the time she throws, there are no thoughts swirling through her head.
“Pitching is almost like a meditation for me,” Kessler said. “There are a lot of people who freak out when they’re out there. I don’t know. There’s a few of us that it’s just blank. It’s just go.”
That’s how she stays poised against nationally-ranked teams, such as her complete game shutout, 1-0, of No. 22 Baylor on March 5, striking out eight and only giving up four hits and one walk over seven innings of work (Her first shutout of the season came against No. 17 Utah on Feb. 26).
Though Kessler took the 2-0 loss to No. 14 Michigan on March 3, she was magnificent, posting a complete game over seven innings, striking out five and giving up six hits and three walks — the only stain being a two-run homer in the fifth.
Two weekends ago, she…