To most Major League Baseball fans, Kent Mercker is known as a pitcher who enjoyed success during a career that spanned 18 seasons.

To most Major League Baseball fans, Kent Mercker is known as a pitcher who enjoyed success during a career that spanned 18 seasons.

To Madison Mercker, Kent is her dad and her best friend.

Madison is a junior on the Dublin Jerome High School softball team. Her biggest fan is Kent, who was in attendance for the Celtics' 5-1 loss to Westerville North on April 21.

"He's completely my best friend. I love him so much," Madison said. "I don't look at him like a baseball player. It was kind of hard when I was little because I didn't see him all the time, but now that he's around, we've become so close. He's definitely my best friend. We do a whole lot together. He's the best."

Kent tries to attend as many Jerome games as possible, as he and his wife, Julie, juggle their schedules to attend the sports activities of all three of their daughters, including Sophie (seventh grade) and Ava (third grade).

"Madison was always the most sports-oriented growing up," Kent said. "She wasn't into dolls, makeup and things like that. She wanted to play catch."

Against North, Kent provided positive reinforcement to Madison, who played first base and had a hit. It's that way at most games.

"I hear him sometimes, and it actually helps," Madison said. "After every game, we'll go home and have our little talk. Sometimes it will last five minutes and then sometimes it will last three hours, and we talk about every part of the game. He helps me so much."

"She plays good defense," Kent said. "Her hitting is good sometimes, but she's always played good defense and she can throw, and I've always stressed that to her. When she first started playing, I told her if she could catch it and throw it, a coach will give you a chance. You have to have defense, so she has worked hard on that."

Kent shares his knowledge with the varsity coaching staff, as he has been the Celtics' summer coach the past two years. He also serves as a volunteer coach for the Jerome baseball team.

"I love it," he said. "I could do it every day. I love talking about baseball, playing it and watching people play it."

Kent was born in Indianapolis but was raised in Dublin, graduating from Dublin High School in 1986. He played for nine teams in his major league career, including two stints with the Cincinnati Reds.

The Merckers resided in Dublin each offseason during his career and remained in Dublin once he retired after the 2008 season.

His accomplishments at the major league level include helping to lead the Atlanta Braves to a World Series title in 1995 and being part of two no-hitters. The left-hander finished his career with a record of 74-67.

He remains a close follower of the sport and is a part-time radio broadcaster for the Reds.

"I'll probably always root for the Braves just because that is where I started," Kent said. "I just like watching baseball. Win or lose, I just like it."

Madison, who was born in Atlanta, enjoyed a childhood that included following her dad across the country during his playing career.

"It never really sunk in until I was older," Madison said of her dad's former profession. "I just always traveled with him, and I never really realized it until the end when I actually understood the sport and everything."

She has attended schools in Dublin since elementary age, but during the summer months the family lived together in the city for which team Kent was pitching. Her favorite city was Chicago when Kent played for the Cubs in 2004.

Madison, who was able to hit at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta and Busch Stadium in St. Louis, misses the family days that teams would hold for their players.

"I miss all those little things for sure. It was a lot of fun," she said.

An avid golfer during his baseball career, Kent remains active in that sport and also has been eager to provide tips to Madison in that sport, as she played her first season for Jerome last fall.