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Eastside star pitcher Kailey Rusk commits to Kennesaw State softball
Kailey Rusk
Junior Kailey Rusk showed herself a force to be reckoned with in the pitching circle this season, particularly during the state tournament. - photo by Gabriel Stovall

COVINGTON, Ga. — Kailey Rusk is still an Eastside Lady Eagle, and will be for another two years. 

But on Friday evening she insured that once her Eastside playing days are done, she’ll promptly become an Owl. 

Rusk, the Lady Eagles’ standout sophomore pitcher and 2017 Pitcher of the Year for The Covington News committed to Kennesaw State, calling it a dream come true. 

“Since the day I first talked to Coach Pete (D’Amour), I kinda knew that it is where I wanted to go,” Rusk said. “Then I went to a pitching camp and met Coach (Doug) Gillis, and that’s when I was like, ‘Ok. I have got to go here.’ I knew that Coach Gillis would teach me so many new things for the better.” 

D’Amour was named as Kennesaw State’s head coach in September 2016, and then Gillis, regarded as one of the top pitching coaches in the nation, came on board in late January 2017. That combination was enough to let Rusk know that it was time to call off the search for a Division I program to play for. 

“Coach Pete and Coach Gillis run an awesome program,” she said. “And there’s just no way I could turn that offer down.” 

Rusk said the staff at KSU first made contact with her around the summer after her freshman year. Last Spring the Lady Owls compiled an impressive 40-20 overall record including an 11-6 mark in the Atlantic Sun Conference. 

In addition Rusk’s all-county honors, she was also named Pitcher of the Year in Region 4-AAAA after she helped lead Eastside to an improbable Elite Eight berth in Columbus. Rusk had a 10-5 record in 2017. She pitched 146 innings and finished with 225 strikeouts and a 2.57 ERA as a sophomore. 

And with choosing a college now out of the way, Rusk believes it clears the way for her to become an even better player. 

“Now that I’ve gotten it out of the way, it pushes me to make better grades and make myself better on the field and in the classroom as well,” she said. “I’m just so happy.”