Prep Baseball Report

Kelly Sees CWS Dream Becoming Closer To Reality

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR New England Senior Writer

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Kelly Sees CWS Dream Becoming Closer To Reality

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Nick Kelly LHP / 1B / South Burlington , VT / 2024

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - When Nick Kelly was young “the College World Series was my favorite thing to do.”

Although Kelly moved from Omaha to Vermont at the age of eight, the aspirations have not changed.

“It would be awesome to play in the College World Series,” the South Burlington High School senior said. “It would be a dream come true.”

The second-rated 2024 in Vermont took a step in that direction with a commitment to play Division I baseball at Fairfield.

But admittedly, being in the northeast corner of the United States did not make his recruitment easy.

“Living in Vermont made it more difficult,” Kelly related. “Coaches that are interested in you also have guys 10 minutes away they can see so much easier. It’s a matter of getting down to be seen. There are only two travel teams in Vermont, so you’ve got to take advantage of opportunities like the Boston Open. That was really rewarding.”

It was where Fairfield associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Brian Fay saw the 6-1 180-pound left-handed pitcher.

“The next day he called and we set up a visit,” Kelly reflected. “I went down and he offered me. It was a quick process. I took a week-and-a-half before deciding.”

Tufts, Fordham and Rhode Island were others being considered by the 15th-ranked senior LHP in New England before the three-time defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference university champion was selected.

“I enjoyed them all but I didn’t want to be in the city,” Kelly said of the three schools that lost out to Fairfield. “I was at home with the coaching staff at Fairfield, I love that it’s close to the water and it’s a good school. It was the best fit for me.”

It was less than a year ago that the 146th-rated 2024 in New England first connected with the university in Connecticut, 41/2 hours from home.

“Last winter I sent an email to them and they said can we set up a call,” Kelly noted. “We talked and coach Fay told me about the school. I went to a camp that winter but they didn’t come to see me in the spring. They weren’t really onto me at the time.

“At the start of summer I was getting looks from low D-I schools in New England and my travel coach, who used to coach with Bill Courier when he was at Vermont, got Courier to come see me throw,” Kelly said in reference to the head coach at Fairfield.

A week later Kelly threw at the Boston Open, and the rest is history.

“They like the way I compete,” Kelly explained. “I’m not the most overpowering with my stuff but I’m a lefty who works fast, competes and has good offspeed.”

It wasn’t until a year ago that Kelly took a major interest in playing college baseball.

“My freshman and sophomore years I didn’t think about it much,” Kelly admitted. “I play three sports (baseball, hockey and football) and I’m good at all of them. I was thinking hockey, but once I got good at baseball that changed.”

Off-season lifting is credited by the 17-year-old with helping his velo improve and colleges took notice.

“Two summers ago I was 80-83 but then I started lifting and using my back leg more and I’m up to 86-87,” Kelly said.

The top-ranked 2024 LHP in Vermont learned where he stood in the sport during his recruiting process.

“I went to a PBR my freshman year and really enjoyed it,” Kelly reflected. “It really helped me get on the right track with what I needed to do to get better. It showed me I’m okay, but it also showed where I needed to improve.”

Even with that knowledge, his recruitment was far from smooth.

“Last summer I wasn’t getting looks and it was really stressful,” Kelly explained. “I always had confidence, so once I started getting looks it was like … I’m doing this.”

Kelly pointed to Ed Hockenbury, Jim Neidlinger and Wayne Mazzoni with benefitting the cause in his development and recruitment in becoming a Faifield commit.

“Honestly, this is a dream come true,” Kelly said. “Since I was little after seeing all the players at the College World Series I’ve wanted to do this, so it’s a weight off my shoulders. I’m excited to keep playing and to commit to a great school like Fairfield that has a chance to win.”

Kelly, who carries a 3.78 GPA in his final year at South Burlington, plans to major in business and minor in sport management in college.

“I’m excited to be part of a team and have the ability to get better,” Kelly concluded. “I’m just excited to be part of a winning program, to meet new people and to get a really good education.”

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