Prior to this past season, Shawnee State’s Kalle Coleman created magic that had never been seen before in Wheelersburg, even with the history of the athletic program and its successes.
She’s hoping to create similar magic within the SSU softball program.
A 2016 OHSAA Division III state champion and a 2017 OHSAA Division III state finalist with the Wheelersburg Pirates, Coleman left lasting memories for herself the last time she donned a uniform in Scioto County prior to this season.
She’s hoping to have the opportunity to do the same at Shawnee State, where Coleman — a standout shortstop — plans to be a key figure in the middle of the Bears’ hitting order.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” Coleman said. “I’m going to embrace it and make the most out of the time that I have left here. It’s the same game no matter what name’s across your chest, but it’s a different feeling when you’re doing it front of your county. I am fortunate to get to play in front of my family, friends and hometown crowd again. The connections that I have made with my teammates simply add to what is already a special game for me.”
At Wheelersburg, Coleman — a three-sport athlete — wasted no time establishing a winning resume.
In volleyball, Coleman was first-team all-district and an Honorable Mention all-Ohio honoree as a junior.
On the basketball floor, Coleman — who started at guard — was named second-team all-SOC during her sophomore, junior and senior seasons and earned Special Mention all-Southeast District honors in 2016 and 2017.
She averaged 8.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 2.9 assists during her senior season.
However, of all the sports that she played, it was softball that proved to be Coleman’s primary love.
“It was always a dream of mine to play college softball,” Coleman said. “I remember watching softball on TV as a little girl and thinking, ‘That is going to be me one day.’ I played travel softball since I was seven years old. I knew that I had to continue playing to prepare me for the collegiate level. I knew for sure that was what I wanted to do with my future around my eighth grade year.”
From the opening game of her freshman season, Coleman took over the starting shortstop reins and never looked back, ultimately being named an all-SOC honoree in all four seasons of her high school career.
In her sophomore through senior seasons, Coleman was named as an all-Ohio selection while helping lead Wheelersburg to three consecutive OHSAA Final Four appearances.
This stretch included the OHSAA Division III state championship in Coleman’s junior season and an OHSAA Division III runner-up finish in her senior year.
“To be part of an athletic program that had so much success during my career was very special to me,” Coleman said. “Getting to play alongside lifelong friends made it even more special. The atmosphere at Wheelersburg was just unbelievable, and is something that I will never forget. Not very many high school athletes get the chance to win a conference championship, let alone go to or win a state title. I was so fortunate to have great coaches, the best teammates and memories that will last forever.”
At Wheelersburg, Coleman played alongside Michal Cunningham, Faith Howard, Abbi Sparks, Bre Klaiber, Makayla Akers, Laiken Salyers, Christen Risner, Sarah Claxon and Ellie Ruby among others.
Each of those nine athletes obtained an opportunity to play a college sport at either the NCAA or NAIA level.
“Being around teammates that want to be as successful as you do makes you push yourself to your limits,” Coleman said. “I felt like I was always on a tight-knit team, no matter the sport. All of these girls were unselfish and had a team-first mindset. We could hold each other accountable, and that’s what it takes to have a winning team.”
After signing with Morehead State and putting together impressive statistics over her two seasons at the NCAA Division I level, including going a perfect 9-of-9 in stolen-base attempts and posting 12 extra-base hits of her 35 total base knocks, Coleman decided to transfer back home.
“Shawnee State offers a small-town feel, and so much support,” Coleman said. “I’ve never realized how many people around here supported SSU athletics until I was a part of the softball program. As an athlete, that means so much to us, and is truly amazing to see.”
In her first game representing Shawnee State on March 3 against NCAA Division II Chestnut Hill (Pa.), Coleman started her SSU career in the best way imaginable by blasting a two-run homer in her opening at-bat.
Her return in front of her home base was cut short, but in 10 games, Coleman posted 10 hits — four of the extra-base variety — and stole three bases.
“I was really excited to start off my career with a home run in my first at-bat,” Coleman said. “I didn’t go up to bat expecting that at all.”
Academically, Coleman’s also stood out above the crowd.
An Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll recipient and an Easton/National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American Scholar-Athlete, Coleman has a strong 3.93 GPA on her line at Shawnee State as a business adminstration major.
Going forward, Coleman wants to continue to maintain those high marks in the classroom, set a positive example for her teammates, and grow the program.
She’s certainly well on her way to accomplishing just that.
“From an individual standpoint, I want to be a great teammate,” Coleman said. “As a team, we would like to leave the program in a better place than when we all got here.”
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