“God’s got this”
These three words are tattooed on Austin’s Kelly’s arm. They are the three words the Washington School graduate kept telling himself, he said, when his life was thrown an unexpected curveball last year when he decided to transfer away from Mississippi State University and to Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla.
“God’s got this,” Kelly said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon a day after he belted three home runs, each more than 400 feet, in a victory for his junior college team, known by Niceville locals as the NFSC Raiders.
Kelly, a power hitting and left handed catcher, has now hit seven home runs for his college team this spring. This includes a homer on his first swing of the season.
Kelly’s future now appears brighter than ever. He recently announced that he will be transferring next year to play at Troy University, which will give him another shot at playing Division 1 baseball.
Kelly, 20, said Wednesday that his ultimate dream of playing professional baseball seems brighter than ever. He said he never stopped believing in himself because of the help of many friends and family members. Along with his parents, who have attended a number of his Niceville games, Kelly said Washington School Coach Hunter Palasini has also helped him stay positive.
“I really owe Coach Palasini a lot,” he said. “So much of my success is because of him.”
Kelly has also remained upbeat, he said, thanks to daily phone calls to his great friend Hunter Azlin. Despite being paralyzed after a hunting accident in 2016, Azlin remains a positive force in so many lives.
“He is a true an inspiration to me, and he reminds me every day that I can never give up,” Kelly said.
Kelly describes his time spent at Mississippi State in Starkville as a “rough year.” It was time that started with him tearing his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and finally ending with the coronavirus pandemic shutting down the baseball season.
“Mississippi State also had two really talented catchers who were ahead of me, and this factored into my decision,” he said.
Kelly said his time in Florida playing junior college baseball has made him a better baseball player.
“A lot of people think that junior college players don’t work that hard, but they are mistaken,” he said. “There are a lot of great players who play JUCO.”