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How Abby Horton Got Recruited During The COVID-19 Pandemic

(Photo courtesy of Abby Horton)

This past fall during her junior year in high school, Abby Horton had a huge weight lifted off of her shoulders when she committed to play softball for Illinois State University.

SA caught up with Horton, who plays travel ball for the New Lenox Lightning Gold, on her experience being recruited during the difficult times of COVID-19. See below for more information on what led Horton to stay in-state and become a Redbird.

Softball America: What made you decide on committing to Illinois State?

Abby Horton: I really love the coaches. I think that their coaching style is perfect for me. I also loved the campus when my mom and I drove down there. I really felt at home.

SA: What was the recruiting process like for you? Did you reach out to Illinois State or did they find you?

AH: The recruiting process definitely got more complicated once COVID-19 hit. I did a lot of virtual stuff to keep myself out there, like keeping my Twitter updated with highlights and links to my games. I tried to email schools as regularly as I could. I reached out to Illinois State first. I emailed the coaching staff during the fall of my sophomore year and I remember being so excited when I saw the assistant coach at one of my games in Tennessee.

SA: Was there any reason why you wanted to stay in your home state? Did you look at any schools outside of Illinois?

AH: I really wanted my mom to be able to come to my games, and it worked out because I fell in love with ISU. I was able to establish a really good relationship with the coaches and talk to a few of the players on a virtual tour, and I thought it was the place for me. I did talk to a few out-of-state schools, but I think ISU gives me the opportunity to have independence and still be close enough to see my family.

SA: How much has travel ball and high school shaped you as a player?

AH: I’ve improved as a player so much in the last two or three years because of travel ball. My travel coaches push me every day to be better and work hard, and I’m really grateful to be able to work with them. I feel like high school ball has really shown me how to be a good teammate and an all-around team player because we have a really strong family dynamic on our team.

SA: Since you graduate high school next year, how much of a relief is it for you that you have already committed to play college softball?

AH: It’s very relieving because the recruiting process is super stressful and it’s exciting because it was a really big milestone for me.

SA: What are you hoping to accomplish in your last high school seasons?

AH: We’re definitely trying to get a sectional championship under our belt and another conference sweep. Personally, though, I want to be the best teammate I can be and hopefully work my way to the All-Area first team because I was on the second team my freshman season.


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