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Kelch signs with Division I Temple University
'Jacks' shortstop says decision based on athletics and academics

WYE MILLS – Chesapeake College shortstop Mike Kelch wanted to play for a Division I baseball program at a university with an outstanding academic reputation. Temple University´s baseball coach wanted a shortstop who could do the job on the field and in the classroom.

Both Kelch and Temple head baseball coach Rob Valli met their respective needs last week when Kelch signed a letter-of-intent to play for the Owls.

"Temple has a great academic reputation and all the athletic facilities to have a successful baseball program," said Kelch, a graduate of W.T. Woodson (Annandale, VA) High who plans to major in kinesiology. "I also really like their coach. He actually reminds me of (Chesapeake) Coach (Frank) Szymanski."

Valli, whose Owls are currently 8-32 in his first year as head coach, came to Temple after five stellar seasons at Gloucester (N.J.) County College. He led Gloucester to the 2005 NJCAA Division III national championship and guided the Roadrunners to Garden State Athletic Conference and Region XIX titles in each of those five seasons.

"We are extremely excited to have Mike join our baseball program," said Valli. "His athletic ability and unparalleled competitive nature will allow him to impact our lineup immediately.

"We needed an experienced shortstop from a top-notch program to come in and play right away," added Valli. "We knew that Coach Szymanski´s players are more than prepared to win a championship at the next level."

Szymanski, Chesapeake College´s athletic director and head baseball coach, said Kelch will be playing for a program on the rise.

"Coach Valli did an excellent job in the junior-college ranks and I´m sure he´s going to build an outstanding program at Temple," said Szymanski. "I think Mike will also be fortunate to be playing for a coach who values the contributions of former junior-college players."

Kelch, who hit .323 with eight home runs and 45 RBI last spring, played a key role as a freshman in the Skipjacks´ march to Region XX and Northeast District championships. He hopes to help the team – which is currently 27-12 but struggling against upper-echelon Region XX opponents – make a similar postseason run later this month.

"I think we´re right in the mix. We definitely have a good chance," said Kelch, who is hitting .323 with 33 runs and 23 RBI this spring. "It´s just a matter of coming together at the right time, like we did last year. We definitely have the heart and talent and coaching to get there."

Szymanski said Kelch´s opportunity with Temple illustrates how players can profit from the junior-college experience.

"Mike´s worked extremely hard to be in position to graduate from Chesapeake and earn a Division I baseball scholarship," said Szymanski. "He´s dedicated himself to improving every day. He´s done everything he could do to improve himself – the weight training, conditioning, extra ground balls, extra batting practice, playing hard all the time and never taking plays off – and he has a great understanding of the game."

PHOTO CUTLINE Photo by Becky Fauver Chesapeake College shortstop Mike Kelch, left, has signed a letter-of-intent to play baseball at Temple University after helping Skipjacks head coach Frank Szymanski, right, put together a 67-30 record over the last two years.

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