Reilly Kerr almost called it quits.
When Kerr, an Archbishop Ryan High School graduate, was in her freshman year at DeSales University, she gave serious thought to moving on from the sport she played her entire life.
“I remember telling my mom my freshman year, I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not,” said Kerr, who lives in Parkwood. “Because I went to high school, I was told freshmen didn’t start, and I got lucky. I ended up starting. I didn’t expect it. But it was the same thing at DeSales.
“When I got there, there was a sophomore first baseman. That was her spot. I thought about quitting, but my mom said I should stay at DeSales. So I decided to stick it out, play with nothing to lose and see what happened.”
What happened was Kerr became one of the best players in DeSales history and went on to have a college career that would be one for the ages.
Check out these video game numbers she put up.
She ended her career eighth all time in hits with 143, tied for fifth in RBIs with 87, 22nd all time in runs with 66, eighth in home runs with 11, second in doubles with 39, and tops in walks with 74 and putouts with 933.
This year might have been her best, where she hit .402 with a .728 slugging percentage and a .500 on-base percentage.
She took over the first-base position for DeSales and had quite the career.
“I think I knew I could do it in the middle of my freshman year of college,” Kerr said. “I had nothing to prove. I came out and played the way I know how to play. I ended up having a good season, and then I started setting goals.
“I had goals, like I wanted to get 100 hits. That’s a milestone. I had 44 after (freshman) year. I knew, after that, I was in the running. So every single season, I would set more goals for myself. I set goals for hits, RBIs, doubles, runs scored. I always made new goals. Once I realized I could do it, I thought I could have a great career. I just tried to make myself better and become a better player.”
Kerr did it by studying her game.
And then taking the difficult approach of addressing them.
Kerr was always a very good softball player since she arrived at high school, but what helped her continue to grow, especially as a hitter, was her work ethic and determination.
“Confidence is a big part of playing softball,” Kerr said. “It’s a game where most of the time, you have to deal with failure. I knew I had work to do, I had work to do at Ryan. My freshman year, people didn’t know where to pitch me, they didn’t know me.
“After that, people knew where to throw me, so I learned to hit the outside pitch and I learned to take walks. It’s not fundamentals, but improving to take advantage of what other teams do when they play you.”
But thanks to her work ethic, Kerr was always one step ahead of the competition. And that’s a big reason for her success, not only throughout college, but in high school where she was a four-year starter and a three-time Catholic League champion.
“To me, it feels like all the effort I put in through tournament ball, high school ball, all my years of college, it shows up,” Kerr said. “My hard work paid off. It’s important because I’m a type A. I love to achieve things and I’m hard on myself. To see my name and see what I’ve done, it’s very cool. If I have kids, I can show them this is what I did.
“By setting goals for myself and working hard, it helped me. I think that’s why I was able to put up the numbers. And it feels good to see what I’ve accomplished.”
It goes far beyond what she’s done on the softball diamond.
“I’m a nursing major and I have a job, so I’m really excited about that,” Kerr said. “I just have to take my boards and I start in July. I’ll be working at Jefferson in Center City. It’s a step-down cardiac ICU, not as intense as ICU, but it will be a great challenge.
“It’s tough, because I’m very excited, but I’m trying to find myself without softball, it’s been a huge part of my life, now I’m in a new journey. I have a whole future ahead of me, the nursing will help me. But I know I’ll play in a co-ed league. My dad still plays in his 50s, and I’ll be in a beer league with him. I never see myself not playing.”
Kerr’s dad has always been one of her biggest supporters, from playing with her down the shore to taking her to games all over the area. In fact, Kerr believes she wouldn’t be where she is without all the support she received.
“My mommom and parents had my back through it all,” Kerr said. “They said never to second-guess myself. They’re the reason I’m so successful. It’s a game of failure, more times you fail. I would get upset, they were right behind me to say, ‘Listen, you’re a great softball player.’
“Now that I’m older, I can’t tell you the bad games. I don’t remember the bad ones. I look back and see great things. One bad game doesn’t define your career. Even if you have an error or a bad strikeout. My parents taught me that.”