Tayven Kelley is hoping a change of scenery will have an impact over his final four months of high school.
That’s according to his new baseball coach, Cedar Cliff’s Scott Lackey.
Kelley was formally granted approval to play baseball with the Colts this spring by a near-unanimous vote at the end of a District 3 Committee hearing, according to PennLive on Wednesday afternoon. He spent his first three-and-a-half years at Boiling Springs High School.
Kelley transferred to Cedar Cliff in January, Lackey told The Sentinel. The skipper didn’t want to get into details as to why Kelley chose to transfer, because he felt it should come from Kelley or his parents, but Lackey did say it was not for athletic reasons.
“I would say they were looking for a change for Tayven’s well-being,” Lackey said.
The family chose not to speak Wednesday afternoon to The Sentinel. Through Lackey, Kelley’s mom said, “Just was a tough day emotionally for us and we don’t want to really draw attention to that.”
Lackey filled in some details, saying Kelley’s dad recently got a new job in Mechanicsburg and the family moved to New Cumberland.
“It just so happened that he landed at Cedar Cliff,” Lackey said.
The coach said the first time he met Kelley and the family was Jan. 22, after Kelley had already enrolled at CCHS. He had seen the rangy outfielder and pitcher in passing over the years, but the two never formally met.
Lackey said they talked during that January meeting about playing baseball and prepared to go through the application process to get Kelley approved to play at his new school. It was the first time Lackey has been through the process, and he said they all prepared for a real chance that Kelley wouldn’t be granted eligibility.
“He said some things to me that proved to me that he just wanted to get out of a situation and get into a new one,” Lackey said, adding that Kelley appeared prepared to not play baseball in the spring.
Lackey said Kelley was going to stay at Cedar Cliff no matter what the verdict was. He asked the coach in the days and weeks leading up if he could practice with the team if he wasn’t eligible and if Lackey would mind if Kelley played for the rugby team.
“No matter what this decision was, he was not going back to Boiling Springs,” Lackey said.
The coach said the committee meeting was emotionally draining for Kelley and his family, as Boiling Springs tried to convince the district the transfer was athletically motivated and brought up personal topics that Lackey did not wish to share, saying it was best to come from the family if they chose to speak.
“It was due process today,” Lackey said. “We had to go through it.”
With the process over now, and with Kelley eligible to play when the season begins March 22, all involved can look forward to fitting the speedy, gifted senior onto one of the Mid-Penn’s best rosters.
Kelley is one of the Mid-Penn Conference’s top talents and was an All-Sentinel First Team pick last year. A Penn State outfield commit, he led the Bubblers to their first District 3 appearance since 2012. He threw a one-hitter in his playoff debut, a 4-1 win at York Suburban, before Bubbletown was knocked out in the next round by Berks Catholic.
He hit .298 with 16 runs, 14 RBIs and five home runs as the main source of offense on the roster, and led the rotation with a 6-1 record in 44.2 innings, striking out 60 with a 2.04 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.
He fits several needs for the Colts, who are battling with ever-improving Red Land in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth, as well as Cumberland Valley.
Senior Bobby Whalen, a Louisville commit and another All-Sentinel first-teamer a year ago, will remain in center field, Lackey said. Kelley will move to one of the corner spots, creating one of the best outfield pairings in the conference with their combined speed. Both were All-Sentinel First Team football selections in the fall as two-way receiver/defensive back talents.
Kelley will also be one of the top two pitching options alongside senior Trey Law, who Lackey expects to bounce back after a down 2018.
Kelley also should bat at the top of the lineup. The Colts, who have 11 seniors this year, will be without cleanup hitter and first baseman Justin Resto for the year, Lackey said, with Resto opting for surgery on tendon damage in his thumb. Resto is committed to play football at Bloomsburg next year.
“I am certain a kid like Tayven would fit somewhere on everyone’s roster,” Lackey said. “We have a real need for a corner outfielder and we have a real need for a pitcher.”
Cedar Cliff lost to Ephrata in last year’s District 3 Class 5A championship, then advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals.