Following a standout sophomore season as a Lady Roadrunner softball player, it was a foregone conclusion that Kaylee Parker would be continue her college playing career at a Division 1 was just a question of where.  

That question has now been answered.

According to an AC press release from Gary Stallard, this past week Parker announced she’d signed with Division I’s Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio, where she plans to major in Exercise Science with a minor in coaching.

After spending a year away from home to play junior college softball in Florida, Parker returned to her roots in Lufkin in 2017, signing to play with Angelina College’s Lady Roadrunners last summer. Back home in front of friends and family, “K.K.” embarked on a phenomenal season that saw her listed among league leaders in several offensive categories and ended with her selection to the Region XIV 1st Team All-Region list.

Among the eye-popping numbers for the former Hudson Lady Hornet were her 16 home runs – including the teams’ 100th homer of the season – her 63 RBI, a .438 batting average and a staggering .813 slugging percentage.  Parker said there was just a different feeling about playing in front of familiar faces.

“I didn’t hit a single homer in my freshman year of college,” Parker said. “It helped being back in my home town, knowing the people in the stands were there for me and believe in me. It makes the game so much easier.”

Her reason for choosing the little Ohio town of 30,000 as her next temporary home?

“When we went to the town of Bowling Green, the coaches there made it feel like home, and the town itself feels a lot like Lufkin,” Parker said. “The downtown area looks so much like Lufkin, and the community does a lot of things together. I felt like I did so well in my own hometown that being somewhere so much like it would keep me feeling comfortable enough to do just as well.”

The Falcons are getting more than some bat pop with Parker: In 2017, she played the outfield, first base and pitched while helping AC to a 45-win season. Getting a taste of winning with the Lady Roadrunners meant she’d want more of the same.

“Last year, (the Falcons) had a winning season and were a game away from the conference championship,” Parker said. “It seems like a very competitive, structured program.”

Parker added that Bowling Green head coach Sarah Willis’ emphasis on hitting was another plus.

“Coach Willis said when it comes to hitting, it’s going to be so much like AC,” Parker said. “She asked what my favorite part of the game is, and of course I said ‘hitting.’ She told me they take just as many cuts during the week as we did at AC, so I was impressed.

“When I got to AC, Coach (Barbi) Mattson said we’d be taking more than 1,000 cuts every week, and I was stunned at first. To hear it from a Division I coach made me feel excited. There won’t be as big of an adjustment.”

Parker said she learned the value of feeling at home after her year in Florida, and that her year with the Lady Roadrunners helped her readjust to the idea of moving away again. Now, she said, she’s ready.

“I guess I wasn’t mature enough my first year, but getting the hometown experience again gave me the boost of confidence I needed to get back out on my own,” Parker said. “Playing here at AC helped me regain my love and passion for the game.”


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