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Southmoreland softball pair signs with colleges

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:03 p.m.
Paul Paterra | For The Independent-Observer
AnnaMarie Gatti (left) signs her deal with Syracuse University and Kelsey Kuhns signs with Seton Hill University.

AnnaMarie Gatti felt it was significant that the day she signed her letter-of-intent to attend Syracuse University Kelsey Kuhns sat along side her signing a letter with Seton Hill University.

After all, when Gatti's toiling on the mound for the Southmoreland softball team, her pitches land in the mitt of Kuhns, her catcher.

“It was very important to have her signing with me,” Gatti said of Kuhns. “It's always her and I that practice together. She's a major part of it. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't get the practice hours.”

The two sat side by side in the Southmoreland High School Library Nov. 14 inking their deals with the schools at which they plan to attend college.

Gatti shared pitching duties last season with Kristen Suhan and struck out 66 batters. She also hit .356 with nine RBIs.

For the right-handed pitcher, Syracuse was a perfect fit. In fact, she actually committed to the school prior to her sophomore year, while she was a student at Greensburg Central Catholic.

“I wanted to stay up north and I felt that Syracuse was the best opportunity to go to the (College Softball) World Series,” Gatti said. “Whenever I went up there, I just fell in love with it. I just knew it was for me. It was the only school I ever visited, which I think means something. I just automatically knew.”

She picked Syracuse from among some 25 schools that had expressed interest, including Penn State, Mississippi State, Central Florida, Georgia Tech, Fordham and Minnesota.

Kim Kelley, who coached Gatti at Southmoreland last season, calls the hurler a standout.

“I'm very proud of her accomplishment,” Kelley said. “She worked long and hard to make it to this point. This is a proud moment for her, her family and Southmoreland athletics. (Syracuse) is getting a dedicated and strong athlete that will help their program. She loves to pitch. You feel comfortable with her on the mound.”

Obviously, Gatti is quite comfortable on the mound.

“I just like that I'm in charge of the game,” she said. “I like knowing I have control over it and the ball is in my hand.”

Rachel Gatti, AnnaMarie's mother, said it was quite obvious at an early age that her daughter had the potential to be a special softball player.

“Since she's been 9 years, the sacrifices she's made and the things she's given up to achieve this dream, it's unbelievable,” said an obviously proud mother. “Since she's been honestly about 2 years old, I knew she had a special talent. There's no words to describe it. She's got a gift.”

Kuhns found many things she liked about Seton Hill.

“The academics (were a selling point),” she said. “The people there, the coach.”

What is certain is that Kuhns is glad to have made the decision on where she plans to further her career on the diamond.

“I'm relieved,” Kuhns admitted. “I'm excited to go. It's just around the corner.”

Kuhns also was a member of the Southmoreland cross country team this season, but softball is her first athletic love. She said it's a sport she has been playing since she was about 5.

Kelsey's parents — Russ and Leslie Kuhns — beamed with pride concerning their daughter's decision.

“It's a big stress relief,” Russ Kuhns said. “There's a lot of time they actually put into it. She catches all three of her pitchers every day all year round.”

“We're very proud of her,” added Leslie Kuhns. “She's really been responsible, managing her studies and her athletics.”

Kelley thinks Kuhns will do well at Seton Hill.

“She's a very dedicated player, a player that always wants to win and is willing to sacrifice whatever she can for the team,” Kelley said of Kuhns.

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or