Baylee Klingler Found Her Home At Washington
"You only do college once."
That's a saying that most people hear at least once during their lives. Years of exploration, memories and an experience that typically makes one wish they could go back.
After her freshman year at Texas A&M, Baylee Klingler felt she wasn't reaching the highest potential in her college experience. She put her name in the transfer portal, and by June she had found her new home. Klingler traded in her Texas roots for the Pacific Northwest and the University of Washington.
"I didn't even have to think twice about it," Klingler told Softball America during a phone interview. "Everything that I like about school and wanted in a school was (at) Washington. The coaching staff was one of the biggest appeals to me. (Head) coach (Heather) Tarr, (assistant) coaches J.T. (D'Amico) and (Lance) Glasoe do such an awesome job of not only coaching us, but mentoring us to be strong women. They do a phenomenal job and they have so much knowledge of the game."
Playing time and on-field performance certainly weren't the issue at Texas A&M, according to Klingler. In fact, she was one of three Aggies to start all 55 games in 2019 and she earned All-SEC freshman team honors.
As Klingler mentioned, personal connections were prominent in her decision. But prior to the new recruiting rule, commitments were made far in advance. Klingler made her pledge to Texas A&M before her freshman year at Dickinson High School.
"It's hard because you commit (at a) young (age) in softball, you have all those years to get to know a coach and establish that relationship," Klingler said. "Where for me and Coach Tarr, it was pretty quick. I didn't know her whole life story before. She made it a point to get to know me as the school year goes on. It's a progressing thing, but we both know we want the same thing. We want the best for each other."
Tarr has established a culture in Seattle that her job goes beyond just what happens on the field, which is the reason she believes Klingler will fit right in with her Husky family.
"Baylee is a great athlete and a skilled softball player," Tarr said in a statement. “We needed depth in our infield after the 2019 season and her skillset as a defender and her potential to slug are what fit our team. Beyond her skills, she is a great person and fits into our team dynamic."
Klingler, a highly touted recruit from the 2018 class, played on the U.S. junior women's national team in 2017. It was a squad that helped her form several friendships with girls at various schools. Once she announced her decision to enter the transfer portal, plenty of those friends, some jokingly and some seriously, reached out to her about coming to their schools.
From that team, one of the strongest connections Klingler made was with Washington's senior shortstop Sis Bates. In hindsight, it appears that Bates played a significant role in why Klingler decided on Washington. However, according to Klingler, her choice wasn't based on the idea of pleasing someone else.
"As much as I was excited to play with Sis again, that did play a role, but it was more about me and what was the best thing for my future and my next three years of eligibility," Klingler said. "It was someone who could give me an inside scoop from a player's standpoint. But I ultimately made the decision for what was the best for me, and I made the perfect decision."
Klingler is expected to compete with SilentRain Espinoza at third base for the Huskies. Tarr will be able to use both players since they complement one another with Klingler being more of a power bat from the right side and Espinoza's left-handed contact approach. The match between Klingler and Washington could be a piece that finally gets the Huskies over the national-title hurdle that has stymied them the past three seasons. Only time will tell.