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Feeling Sense Of Familiarity, Taylor Pannell Picks Tennessee

(Photo courtesy of Tennessee Athletics)

The recruiting process is one of the most stressful times a high school student-athlete can endure. Finding the right college for a career path is hard enough, and when one adds in finding an athletic program that fits one's needs, it becomes even tougher.

For 2022 recruit Taylor Pannell, a lot was learned from her first commitment to Auburn and it’s helped her feel confident in her recent pledge to Tennessee.

Pannell, a member of the 2019 PGF national championship–winning 14U Mojo '04 Fisher squad, made a verbal commitment to Auburn back in eighth grade. Despite the things she loved about the Tigers’ program, as time went by, she questioned if it was truly right for her. When she reopened her recruiting, she kept an open mind and decided she wasn’t going to rush it this time.

“I’m very excited,” Pannell told Softball America in a phone interview about her recent commitment to Tennessee. “The process is very stressful. I’m glad that it is over with and felt it was the best decision for me. I wanted to go somewhere good academically and athletically. Tennessee is both. I just had a good connection with the coaches. It just felt right.”

Her second recruiting process obviously had differences from the first one because of the obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic. That part of the equation actually worked as an advantage for Tennessee in landing the No. 5 recruit in Softball America's 2022 Top 50 Recruiting Rankings.

“Having been through the recruiting process twice, I expected something similar to the first (experience), but it was completely different because of COVID,” Pannell said. “I couldn’t go on visits, I couldn’t see campuses. Coaches couldn’t watch me play other than on the computer, which is completely different.”

The Illinois native was able to visit Knoxville, Tenn. last fall and take in the Rocky Top experience. The program’s history, the Saturday football game at Neyland Stadium and the coaching staff all made Tennessee Pannell’s favorite heading into the September 1 date that allowed the 2022 class to communicate with Division I coaches.

In talks with other coaches, Pannell struggled to fully grasp areas of campus that they’d describe to her because she’d never seen them. It was just easier with Karen and Ralph Weekly, Pannell said, because she had made the visit previously.

Pannell was happy to find out that other top recruits in the 2022 class, Destiny Rodriguez and Karlyn Pickens, recently picked Tennessee as well.

“They’re two really good players and we get along really well when we play against one another,” Pannell said. “I respect that a lot and the fact they (committed to Tennessee), it made me want to go even more.”

It appears the future pieces are coming together for Tennessee and Pannell is thrilled to be a part of it. 

mckenna gibson tennessee softball Photo by Eakin Howard_Getty Images.jpg

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