Softball players teammates again at Roseville store
Katie Crabb had been back in Roseville for just a few months when she followed a lead and walked into a dream job as manager at the new Kelley Athletic Co. store on Pleasant Grove Blvd.
With her first move, Crabb hired longtime friend Jenae’ Leles as a part-time employee.
The local Kelley Athletic lineup changed Aug. 1. The company, based in Texas, has a 2006 Roseville High School graduate running its Roseville store, a first baseman who hit .468 with 15 extra-base hits and a .792 slugging percentage in her junior year with the Tigers. Leles is a third baseman who hit .591 with 16 extra-base hits and a 1.030 slugging percentage in her senior year at Rio Americano.
Crabb and Leles give Kelley Athletic Co. local and national star power. All American Sports Academy teammates as youth players, Crabb and Leles combined to win three consecutive College World Series — Leles in 2006 and ’07 with the University of Arizona, Crabb in 2008 with Arizona State. They said they’re like sisters and used to chat during Arizona-ASU games.
Leles continues to play with the U.S. National Team. She leaves next month for a warmup tour against Texas colleges before heading to Mexico for the Pan American Games.
Crabb said youngsters will stop by the store to shop or watch sports on the wall-mounted big-screen TVs and marvel at their World Series rings.
“Once they hear we played in college, they’re like, ‘Wowwwww,’” Crabb said. “They have never really met a girl who played college ball. I show them my rings and all that, and they just think it’s the coolest thing ever.”
Crabb planned to stay in Arizona after earning her communications degree, but then she couldn’t come home last Thanksgiving because of work and realized, “I don’t have any family here.”
She moved back to Roseville in February, when Kelley Athletic opened. She began working office jobs, but that wasn’t cutting it. She yearned to talk to people.
Crabb was pointed once and then twice toward Kelley Athletic, told by a friend the store was looking for a woman who plays and knows softball (Kelley Athletic is a baseball and softball store).
She went into the store looking for something part time but said the manager told her he was leaving and was looking for someone to take over.
“I was like, of course I would,” she said.
Crabb said she called Leles the second she left the store and told her, “When you get back here, you’re coming into my store and you’re working here.”
Crabb flew to Texas the next week to meet the Kelley family, train and check out the equipment. Arizona and Arizona State were sponsored by different companies when Leles and Crabb played. Crabb tested Kelley’s bats, gloves and inspected the equipment and uniforms.
“I was blown away by the quality of the product, and I was like, ‘Yes, sign me up. I would love to do that,’” Crabb said. “I wish we had known about this because it’s amazing. The quality of our stuff is so much better than what we had. It’s just unbelievable.”
The timing just happened to be right for Leles. She was with Team USA from June through August, touring the United States and Canada. Leles grew up in Carmichael. Her parents now live in Fair Oaks. She and Crabb train together in Rocklin, and Leles stays busy giving lessons Mondays and Fridays in Orangevale and as an assistant coach for a travel team in El Dorado Hills.
“I’m kind of a nomad. I really don’t have a home yet,” Leles said with a smile.
But she does have new equipment. Leles now uses Kelley bats and gloves while playing for the national team. Her contract with Mizuno ended this year.
“The company’s great, and I bought into it,” said Leles, who earned her degree in family studies and human development. “I recommend all these products to my girls.”