Auburn, Ala.--Auburn senior shortstop Kelsey Bogaards has just three at-bats this season and is a career .196 hitter, but she has become one of the most important players for the softball Tigers as they make their run towards what they hope will be another College World Series berth.
Injuring her knee in the fall and again in her return just two weeks ago, the player known as “Turtle” has become a rallying point for the Auburn Tigers and she couldn’t think of a better way to help out her teammates other than being on the field herself.
“I loved it and I love my team,” Bogaards said of the T-Shirts her teammates are wearing in her honor. “It’s awesome. I fought every day in rehab to come back for them and now they are fighting for me so that’s what the Auburn family does. It’s a family and it’s what this team is.”
Growing up in Miami, Bogaards got her nickname as a young child and it has stuck with her ever since. While it has been part of her life forever, Bogaards noted that the injury and attention it has given her has taken things to another level.
“It’s escalating really quick,” she said. “I have a lot of turtles in my room, I’ll just say that. I have gotten a lot of turtle presents. It’s crazy how this other injury has changed a lot. If it helps this team fight then it makes something good out of it.”
Starting 35 games as a freshman and playing in all 62 games as a sophomore as Auburn’s primary shortstop, Bogaards playing in 35 games with 21 starts in 2015 before Haley Fagan took over the starting job at shortstop. Despite that she remained a big part of the Tigers’ run to Oklahoma City with her energy in the dugout and on the practice field.
Now that’s her role as the Tigers try to make another run at a national championship. Watching Fagan come back from her own knee injury and Whitney Jordan step up at shortstop, Bogaards said she couldn’t be more proud of her teammates.
“If they give me the credit, they’re the ones fighting out there,” Bogaards said. “Whitney Jordan did awesome. I was so proud watching her out there, she did so good. And finally, seeing Haley.
“We’ve been through rehab, been through it all. Everyday 6 a.m. workouts, just seeing her out there was great to see ,too.”
Auburn will face Jacksonville State in game two of the Auburn Regional on Friday at 1:30 p.m. CDT, which is a change from the previously scheduled 6 p.m. due to the threat of rain. The first game is now scheduled for 11 a.m. between Oregon State and USC Upstate.