For the Docks, softball just seems to run in the family. Four years after her sister dominated the local softball scene, Kelly's Alexis Dock finished an impressive freshman campaign with numbers that would make any senior jealous.
Because of this and her crucial role in guiding the Lady Hawks to a third place finish in the Class 2 state tournament, Alexis Dock has been selected as the Standard Democrat Player of the Year.
"She did not play like a freshman," Kelly head coach Rhonda Ratledge said. "She had our highest batting average. When she went up there to bat, she wasn't up there to strikeout. She was up there to place a ball where the defense wasn't. She did an excellent job doing that as well as batting from the left side."
Few freshman in recent memory have been in the situation to have the kind of impact that Dock had from day one.
Besides being asked to share pitching duties with last year's ace, Kristy Brucker, Dock was placed third in the batting order. In both areas, she shined from the start.
Pitching 102 of her team's 181 innings played this season, Dock posted a 2.40 earned-run-average on her way to a 13-1 record. She struck out 78 batters, 56 of those swinging, while holding opposing hitters to a .197 batting-average.
Of her success on the mound, Dock credits her sister Danielle, 2009's Standard-Democrat Player of the Year, in helping her through any growing pains.
"It's definitely been very supportive having her," said Alexis of her sister. "Because she's always there for me and she's helped me throughout my years and taught me pretty much everything I know about pitching.
"She's keeps me calm and keeps me from getting angry at myself. It just helps a lot having her there."
Whether starting on the mound or at second-base, one constant was her spot near the top of the order.
Placed in the third spot in the lineup to start the season, Dock justified her lofty position by posting a .407 batting-average and .439 on-base-percentage to lead the team in both categories.
Her average only went up with runners in scoring position, hitting .448, as she collected a team-high 25 runs-batted-in while scoring 23 times. She finished the year with five triples, two doubles and eight stolen bases.
"She stayed in that three spot," Ratledge said. "When we had to put in our days of practice (before the season) she came in and you could just see her determination and she was well focused up there in the batters box. It added to it that she was a left handed hitter.
"That was kind of nice to throw her in the mix and actually have two lefties going back-to-back with Morgan LeDure hitting second. She did an excellent job in that third spot. You rarely see a freshman up there in that upper lineup."
While she rarely showed it on the field, Dock admits she has had her share of tense moments this season.
"It was very nerve wracking at times," Dock said. "Especially pitching at state."
Fortunately for Dock, she was surrounded by one of the more talented rosters in Southeast Missouri. As a team, the Lady Hawks compiled an impressive .335 batting-average and scored 178 runs on the season.
Inside the circle Dock was aided by the presence of Brucker, a sophomore who was tasked with handling the majority of the pitching duties in her freshman season.
The two girls pitched every inning this season for the Lady Hawks, combining for a 2.09 earned-run-average and eight total shutouts.
Ratledge credited the duo's ability to complement each other as a big reason for their success.
"If Alexis was having a bad day or whatever, we definitely knew we could rely on Kristy come in and step up," Ratledge said. "That helped because if Kristy started a game, Alexis could then come in and finish the game. Either way, whether she started or finished, it was still nice to have that second pitcher."
After going through the regular season without incurring a loss, Dock saved some of her best performances for the postseason.
In Kelly's sectional contest against Twin Rivers she came in to relieve Brucker, retiring all 14 batters she faced in a perfect 4 2/3 innings to lead the Lady Hawks to a 12-1 win. That same game she went 3 for 4 at the plate with a triple.
Coming back to start in the quarterfinals, Dock pitched four scoreless frames against Hartville, allowing one hit and striking out nine, in a 13-0 rout that propelled Kelly to the final four.
Though she faltered early in a 7-0 semifinal loss to Brookfield, her only blemish of the season, Dock dusted herself off and pitched all seven innings against Palmyra later that afternoon in the third-place game.
Her efforts, along with seven hits from the Lady Hawks' offense, resulted in a 5-4 win that left Kelly with its best finish since 2008.
"That was definitely a great experience," Dock said of placing third in state.
With the season now at a close and thoughts turning toward next year, Ratledge hopes what she saw during Dock's freshman campaign is a just a glimpse of what's to come for her exceptional young hurler.
"Alexis definitely came on strong and was one of the stronger pitchers in the area," Ratledge said. "It's going to be excited the next three years to watch her develop, get stronger and just kind of see what she can do to offset and rattle the other teams' batters."