ST. JOSEPH -- Kelly right fielder Carissa Klipfel takes her role seriously.
The junior starts on defense and has only 11 at-bats this season.
Kelly coach Rhonda Ratledge chooses to use a designated hitter to bat in Klipfel's spot in the lineup.
But Klipfel showed Friday why Ratledge uses her in the field.
Klipfel made a great catch to start the seventh inning and help Kelly beat Marion C. Early 3-1 in a Class 2 semifinal at Heritage Park.
The right fielder ran a long way and slid to her knees to grab the ball just before it hit the grass.
The catch proved to be an important one because Marion C. Early had three baserunners reach in the inning. All three runners were stranded.
"I take it very importantly," she said about her role. "I know we needed that catch to make the out there. So I know it means a lot to my team, and I was going to give it my all no matter what. Defense means everything. If you miss one catch, you never know what can happen. Runs can score. It means a lot."
Klipfel, who had five catches in the game, has been a member of the varsity team since her freshman year. This is her first year as a starter.
Ratledge came away impressed with her team's defense because Marion C. Early put numerous balls in play against pitcher Danielle Dock.
Dock struck out just two batters, so the defense had to play well.
"The one she [Klipfel] caught on her knees, I looked up and saw it was over [second baseman] Katee [Moore[']s] head," Ratledge said. "I knew Carissa was in the field, [and I was] thinking she was too far back. I knew it was going to drop. And I really didn't have a real good view because the umpire was in my way, too. Next thing I know, she is on her knees and made the catch. Oh my gosh. Outstanding right fielder. There is no replacing her right there."
Ratledge said Klipfel is a natural on defense.
"She has improved so much," Ratledge said. "Because of her outstanding abilities right there, she has not made an error all year in right field. And that's why she is there. She has earned that spot, and she plays it really well. She has thrown several people out even at first with ground balls coming [to her]."
Jessica Riley hit in Klipfel's spot in the batting order Friday.
Riley pitched much of last year, but she hasn't pitched much this season because of the emergence of Dock.
Riley has come on with the bat lately after not batting much last year and earlier this season. Riley had just 25 at-bats through district play. She went 1-for-2 with an RBI against Marion C. Early.
"It's nice just to be able to hit," Riley said, "and to be there whenever we need the runs. Everybody does a good job of playing their roles. It's important for everybody to do that. That way we can all keep each other up. It's important to hit all the way down the lineup, and in the field they do good."