Girl power: Oler's confidence shines on the diamond

Douglas Fritz • Jun 6, 2019 at 5:14 PM

In certain circumstances, Kaylee Oler might default to her shy side.

But when it comes to playing baseball in the Johnson City American League, it’s a different story.

“It’s funny because she’s shy and you might have a hard time getting anything out of her,” said her dad and coach, Wayne Oler. “But when she steps onto the baseball field, it’s a different personality and a different confidence.”

Kaylee was chosen as a member of the 12-year-old All-Star team for the American League. The shortstop and pitcher led her team in batting average during the regular season.

Wayne said Kaylee bats second in the order and does things expected of a player in that spot.

“She’s a fast runner and a contact hitter who puts the ball in play,” said Wayne. “In 16 games, she had only two strikeouts.”

As a pitcher, it’s her control that makes the difference.

“She’s not the fastest, but she changes speeds and hits spots,” said Wayne. “She’s more like a Greg Maddux. She keeps hitters off balance.”

In the field, Kaylee gets it done with a steady glove and a good arm.

One of her former coaches, Mike White, said Kaylee succeeded because of effort.

“What always impressed me about Kaylee was her drive to be exceptional,” said White. “And it was her drive to play with the others on the field, whether it was boys or girls. She just loved to compete — whether it was baseball, basketball or soccer.”

Kaylee started playing teeball with her older brother, Carson, when she was four years old. She began playing travel softball when she was six.

“Things came natural for her,” said Wayne. “She played Little League softball and baseball until she was nine. But she loved baseball better.”

White said there was no doubt about Kaylee’s baseball abilities.

“As she came up through Little League, it made sense she was someone we wanted to be a part of our teams,” he said. “We drafted her as a nine-year-old.”

It didn’t take long for Kaylee to deliver on the promise she showed.

“In the city tournament in 2016, when she a nine-year-old, we were down 3-1 in the last inning,” said White. “We had two outs and she was facing a 12-year-old All-Star pitcher. She pulled a fastball and got a base hit. We lost 3-2, but her at-bat was impressive.”

Kaylee’s love for baseball has made a nice connection with dad.

“It’s like with all sports, that’s what she wants to do,” said Wayne. “I come home and she says, ‘Can we go hit or go throw, or go to the Little League park?’ ”

Wayne said Kaylee has decided to play middle school softball at Liberty Bell, but may also try Babe Ruth or travel baseball on the big field.