Auburn's Kaylee Horton Heads To Home State To Finish Career
“Everything happens for a reason.”
Kaylee Horton keeps that line in her Twitter bio for good reason. Horton entered her name into the transfer portal just before the start of her senior season in 2020, which was a tough decision but the right choice for her. The former Ole Miss center fielder loved her school and the time she spent there, it was just no longer the right place for her.
“Entering the portal, it was a really hard decision to make because I love my Ole Miss family and my teammates. But I think it was the right decision for me,” Horton told Softball America in a phone interview.
Shortly after entering the college softball transfer portal, Horton received recruiting interest from Auburn head coach Mickey Dean. She was intrigued from the start, as Auburn is a school that is about a three-hour drive from her home in Jasper, Ala. The Tigers ultimately won her over, as Horton made it official in April that she was going to play her final college softball season in her home state.
Of course, like it was for other transfers, the transfer season was certainly different for Horton since the COVID-19 pandemic impacted in-person encounters and experiences. But that’s also shown Horton that her new team will go to any length to make sure she feels at home.
“When Coach Dean called, I was really excited because I wanted to be back in state to finish my last year of softball,” Horton said. “It's amazing. Everyone here is like a family. It's really nice to actually get to know people outside of softball before we actually get to team practices.”
Horton recently moved into her living space at Auburn as classes recently began. One of her first experiences on campus was joining the class of Auburn's first-year softball players for a lunch meeting with the coaching staff. That was the first time she’d met the full staff, which was a valuable dynamic of recruiting that was lost due to COVID-19.
And what are the Tigers getting in Horton? A do-it-all type of player. The 2019 SEC All-Defensive Team selection can play multiple positions, adds speed to the lineup and has a veteran presence in arguably the toughest conference in college softball. She’s also a two-time SEC Spring Honor Roll honoree.
Despite the previous accomplishments Horton garnered throughout her college career, she is most importantly trying to lead by example with her new squad. Horton hopes that by staying within the conference, she'll be able to pass down what she's learned on and off the field in the SEC.
“I'm trying not to live in the past because I want to keep moving forward and working hard,” Horton said. “My goal is just to stay focused and keep grinding because I want to help Auburn go all the way to the World Series. We have all these goals here. I just want to be a great example and a great leader.”