ANDERSON — Committed to the school since the 2016 season, McDonald County senior catcher Kylie Helm inked her letter of intent Wednesday afternoon to continue her academic and athletic career at NCAA Division I Mercer (based in Macon, Georgia).
Helm was one of eight signees for the Lady Bears in the early signing period, joined by third baseman Rachel Baker (Huntsville, Alabama), catcher-outfielder Destiny Colgate (Winter Springs, Florida), pitcher Riley Hickok (Warner Robins, Georgia), outfielder Elisa Rosado (Plano, Texas), catcher Sophie Sumner (Valdosta, Georgia), first baseman Sarah Taylor (Santa Ana, California), and first baseman-outfielder Diamond Williams (Grovetown, Georgia).
"I chose Mercer because I really gelled well with the team and the coaching staff and I felt like being at Mercer was the right place for me," Helm said in a media release.
Helm posted some ridiculous offensive numbers during her four-year varsity career with the Lady Mustangs — namely a .517 career batting average with 14 home runs and 142 RBI. She earned all-Big 8 Conference first team honors all four seasons and she took Big 8 player of the year honors after her senior campaign.
During her prep career, McDonald County won two Big 8 and two district titles.
Helm hit the game-winning, walk-off homer in the memorable district title game against defending Class 3 state champion Monett.
Additionally, Helm earned all-district four years, all-region three years, and all-state honors twice, including her senior season.
During her time in a McDonald County uniform, the Lady Mustangs won 78 games (nearly 20 wins per season): 24 her senior season, 18 her junior season, 20 her sophomore season, and 16 games her freshman season.
Helm proved to be a big reason why the Lady Mustangs enjoyed so much success and head coach Skyler Rawlins coached her all four years in high school.
“She’s meant a lot for us,” Rawlins said after McDonald County’s sectional loss to Bolivar. “She’s been one of those leaders for us. She’s carried us from behind the plate and helped with our pitchers, and then offensively, you’re talking about someone that’s been one of the best hitters in Southwest Missouri. That’s nice to have and tough to replace. You’re not going to replace her right off the bat. It’s not going to happen. Just move on and enjoy what she done and what all these seniors have done for this program, it’s been amazing. They have two district championships, two conference championships, and the legacy they’ve added on is something we’re proud of for them.”
Mercer finished with a 33-19 record overall and 11-5 Southern Conference record last season and the Lady Bears' conference foes include Chattanooga, East Tennessee State, Furman, Samford, UNCG, and Western Carolina.
The Lady Bears also stepped outside their conference last season for several games, including games against nationally-ranked Georgia and Mississippi State. Their 2019 schedule includes Florida, Connecticut, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Michigan State, Louisville, Indiana, Tulsa, and Rutgers.
Mercer's success includes classroom work, as the team earned the No. 25 spot on the 2017-18 NFCA Academic Team list with a collective 3.516 GPA. Grand Canyon led the nation with its 3.790 GPA. Helm has been an Academic All-State winner during her time at McDonald County.