published Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Lady Owls' Kelsey Chernak headed to ETSU

Ooltewah senior Kelsey Chernak recently accepted a scholarship offer from East Tennessee State softball coach Brad Irwin and will sign with the Johnson City school in November.

Chernak has visited ETSU twice, most recently last month, and that led to the commitment.

"I really like everything," Chernak said. "The campus is beautiful. The coaches are awesome. It's a great marketing school, which is what I want to major in. I had interest from other colleges, but I knew this was a good fit for me."

Chernak is coming off a summer season with the Chattanooga Force 18-under Gold team coached by her father, Ken. She batted .396 for the Force with three triples, eight doubles and 24 RBIs and stole six bases and scored 27 runs. She mainly has played catcher in summer ball and occasionally second base.

Chernak never played shortstop until she got to high school but has been a fixture there the last two seasons for the Lady Owls. Ooltewah coach Norma Nelson said she had a good defensive catcher in Abby Daniels, who has moved on to play at Berry College, but she needed help at shortstop at the time. She's unsure what she'll do with Chernak next spring.

"She's a great kid and a very versatile softball player," Nelson said. "She could probably play anywhere except maybe pitcher. She'll play wherever she's needed, and she's going to be able to field her position. And she hit about .340 for us and is one of our best baserunners."

Chernak said Irwin also has not talked about a definitive position for her.

"I'll play wherever it fits the team," she said. "I love catching. I love playing middle infield. I love playing softball."

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or

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