2015 was a stellar year for coach Wayne Puckett and his Upson Lee Knights baseball team. The Knights advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history, knocking off the No. 7 state ranked Crisp County Cougars in round one.
One of the big reason’s for the Knights’ success was the play of senior Kyle Kelly, The middle infielder had a terrific season, earning First Team All-Region honors, and a scholarship offer from Point University (West Point, Ga.).
“Kyle is a great kid on and off the field,” said UL baseball coach Wayne Puckett. “He improved each year that he was with our program and had his best year this past season. He worked hard everyday to get better. I am confident he will represent Upson Lee and Thomaston well at Point University. They are getting a really good ball player and even better kid.”
This past season Kelly really came into his own. He posted a .373 batting average, and led the team with 19 RBI, while also scoring 20 runs. After his terrific season, Kelly was named First Team All-Region by the Region 2 coaches.
Point University is coached by Jeremy “Bam” Christian, who just finished his first season with the team. Point University, which were formally the Atlanta Christian College Chargers, won the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) Division II National Championship in 2010.
Kyle is expected to officially sign with the Skyhawks nest week, and according to Kelly he feels he will fit in with the team and and help them continue to take the program in the right direction.
“I has a couple of other teams interested in me,”said Kelly. “I know Piedmont College wanted me as a pitcher, but I felt at Point I could be utilized better and do more things. They did pretty well last season in conference play, and coach Christian told me I fit what they are looking for in their program, which is playing fundamentally sound baseball.”
The Skyhawks are in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) and they compete in the AAC (Appalachian Athletic Conference). Other teams which compete in the AAC include;Bluefield College (Bluefield, Va.), Bryan College (Dayton, Tenn.), Columbia College (Columbia, S.C.), Milligan College (Elizabethton, Tenn.), Montreat College (Montreat, N.C.), Reinhardt University (Waleska, Ga.), St. Andrews University (Laurinburg, N.C.), Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta (Atlanta, Ga.), Tennessee Wesleyan (Athens, Tenn.), Truett-McConnell College (Cleveland, Ga.), and Union College (Barbourville, Ky.).
Last season the Skyhawks finished with a 21-33 record overall, but finished with a 16-11 record in conference play. Tennessee Wesleyan won the conference in 2015.
Kelly says that he is currently undecided which field of study he will enter, but is looking at going into education, becoming a teacher and a coach. Kelly will leave for Point University on August 13 as the team starts their fall workouts.
“I want to thank all of the people that supported me through my baseball career,” said Kelly. “Coach Puckett, Coach Hammock, and Coach Mellown really tough me valuable lesson and the fundamentals of the game I love. Coach Derek Pardue also had a lot to do with any success I had in baseball, coaching me when I played travel ball with the Thomaston Warriors. Those guys made me the player I am today, and I am extremely grateful.”
Wes McCard can be contacted at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.