The University of Oregon didn’t promise Parker Kelly anything when it began recruiting the burgeoning Westview utility man.

Not a starting spot. Not playing time every day. Not a guaranteed high future draft spot if he signed with the Ducks’ baseball program.

What manager George Horton and the UO coaching staff did offer the Wildcat junior, however, was a chance to compete, an opportunity to be a part of a program that’s on the verge of yearly trips to the College World Series, and the possibility of developing into a professional down the road.

It was an honest, straightforward recruiting pitch to the Wildcat junior and his family. No frills, no fanciness. Come get your education at a great university, have a big hand in winning in the Pac-12 and have fun doing it.

Kelly was either going to wait until the summer or next fall to make his college decision or determine his school of choice before his junior season. Siding in favor of avoiding the prolonged pressure and recruiting scrutiny, the shortstop pulled the early trigger on the first day of Westview’s season, verbally committing to a Duck program that’s quickly put heat on Oregon State and the rest of the Pac-12 in a short amount of time.

“When I was down there, they were talking about how they were getting to the top of the mountain, they just have to push the boulder over,” said Kelly of UO. “That was a cool thing to hear. That’s what I want to be a part of. I’ll have an opportunity to play as a freshman, and come in and play wherever: third, shortstop, catcher, outfield or wing it on the mound. We’ll see what happens, but I feel like I can come in and have an impact there, and hopefully help get to the College World Series.”

It helped that Horton and UO had recruited and won over Parker’s older brother Carson, who committed to the Ducks, but ultimately entered the MLB Draft where he was picked in the second round by the St. Louis Cardinals. Carson is still a Duck at heart, Parker said. And, though Parker had his pick of schools from up and down the West Coast, Horton and the UO have always had a strong connection with the Kelly clan.

“He would’ve supported me no matter where I wanted to go,” said Kelly of Carson. “But, secretly I could tell he wanted me to be a Duck. He was really on me about the schooling part. That was really important with our family. They have all the resources to help me get my degree there.”

A top prospect nationally, who can hit the low 90s on the radar gun on the mound, yet has defensive range for days at shortstop, and the hose to gun down base runners from any infield position, Kelly can play virtually any position on the field. Kelly’s gotten bigger and stronger in the weight room as well, which has enhanced his power and enlightened an already sound hitting approach at the plate.

“It feels great to be a Duck, I’m very blessed,” continued Kelly. “I had a lot of great schools I was looking at, but I just felt Oregon was the place for me. It’s an awesome honor to have the Ducks’ logo on all the time at school. My brother’s pumped, my family’s excited about it.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview shortstop Parker Kelly said he wanted to make his collegiate choice early in order to focus on helping the Wildcats win a state championship.

Given another year, Parker could very well develop into an early round pick and jump straight to the professional ranks. But, that’s still more than a year away with many games and summer showcases to go. For now, Parker is focused on the high school season and trying to take Westview back to the top.

“I wanted to get the pressure over with,” said Kelly. “I did it early so when I came out for the season, it wouldn’t be on my mind. I know where I’m going, and I get to enjoy this time with my buddies and focus on winning a state championship in high school.”

Kelly is interested in studying sports marketing in college, and with Nike’s fingerprints all over the school’s business program, UO and its top-10 sports marketing program was a natural fit.

“They have a great family atmosphere down there,” said Kelly. “I love the coaching staff. I’ve going down and visiting since I was really little. “They’re on the rise and they’ve had a couple good seasons. I’m just really excited about being a Duck.”

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