McKendree University softball coach Evelyn Bean admits Chelsy Durbin came in ‘under the radar’ when she participated in a recent Bearcats tryout.
Initially, not much was known about the St. Elmo High School senior.
But by the time Durbin left the camp, her ability to play all over the diamond was just one aspect that helped raise Durbin’s profile to the point that Bean felt compelled to make her part of McKendree’s up-and-coming program.
‘She came to our camp and did very well,’ said Bean last Monday after Durbin signed a letter of intent to attend McKendree on a softball scholarship.
‘She has great fundamentals and is a solid contact hitter. She is also a very strong student, and that is something we always look for when we recruit.’
Durbin, a three-sport participant and honor roll student at SEHS, has done a little bit of everything, and done it well – both athletically and academically – during her high school career.
She is coming off a junior season in which she led the Lady Eagles in hitting (.406) and tied for the team-lead with 15 RBI. She was also St. Elmo’s No. 2 pitcher, in addition to playing about every position but catcher.
‘She’s a very talented athlete,’ said Keri Kistler, who coached Durbin the past two seasons. ‘She’s got a good sense of the game, and she’ll help out McKendree’s program tremendously.’
Kistler also lauded Durbin’s work ethic, a quality that caught her new coach’s eye as well.
‘When she came to our tryouts, she was a very hard worker and very attentive to what we were trying to do,’ Bean said. ‘She looks like she’s got a great work ethic.’
Kistler echoed Bean’s sentiments.
‘She’s one of those athletes that whatever her coach asks her to do, she’s going to do it to the best of her ability,’ Kistler said. ‘And she can do pretty much anything.’
Durbin will be able to concentrate solely on softball once she gets to McKendree, and Bean feels her newest recruit has a tremendous upside.
‘She’s got a lot of the basics down,’ Bean said. ‘I think she’ll get better and improve.’
The Bearcats are coming off a stellar season in which they tied the program record of 41 victories. They return almost every player from that team, and will open the season as the 20th-ranked NAIA team in the nation and the No. 1 team in their region.
But that success is just one aspect that attracted Durbin to McKendree.
‘I like how it’s a four-year university, and I can start there and finish there,’ Durbin said. ‘It’s also got a really good (academic) reputation… I’m really excited.’
Durbin is the daughter of Charlie and Nancy Durbin. She is a two-time all Egyptian-Illini Conference selection, and was an all-National Trail Conference honorable mention as a junior.
Bean said that Durbin, like most incoming freshman, will probably start off playing on the Bearcats’ junior varsity team.