Oregon Checked All Boxes For Transfer Kyla Morris
Kyla Morris had a list of expectations that had to be met in order for her to end her college softball career at the perfect school.
Taking her fifth year of NCAA eligibility this season, Morris wanted a new pool of competition, a spot closer to home and a place where she could earn a degree that would put her one step closer to her goal of being in sports broadcasting.
Through her time in the transfer portal, Morris discovered that the University of Oregon just so happened to check every single one of those boxes.
“What’s to come next (in my life) confirmed this decision for me,” Morris said. “I really wanted to be at a place that was a top 25 school and would be super competitive going into the postseason. I wanted to find a place that would allow me to pursue a master’s degree that would guide me toward my field and be able to play one more year of the sport that I have been playing for so long.”
The competition in the Pac-12 was the cherry on top of the cake for Morris. Coming from Duke in the ACC, she wanted to experience another ultra-competitive environment before saying goodbye to the game she loves. Since Oregon has an aggressive schedule against top-ranked teams throughout its season, the battles she's experienced on the field in Eugene have made an impact on Morris.
“Being in the Pac-12 is exciting in itself, being able to play against super regional–type competition every single day,” Morris said. “We have played Washington, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona, etc., and having that level of competition every day keeps me on my toes.”
The No. 13 Ducks are currently chasing a postseason spot, and they've won 13 straight games in the process. They currently sit in a tie for second place in the Pac-12.
And there’s been a bigger philosophy for the Ducks this year that goes beyond their 2023 season, with an emphasis on not only playing for their current teammates, but also for the women who played before them, as well as those who will play for Oregon after them. It’s a doctrine that Morris has happily adopted, and without it, she doesn’t believe the team would be having as much success as its had this season.
“From the beginning of the season, we talked about playing with a postseason mindset and playing each game like it is our last game,” Morris said. “Our biggest focus is continuing to play for each other, playing for seniors, playing for the legacy of our program, playing for the people that will come after us. When we are able to do that, we are able to play our best softball.”
And while Morris has seen less time this season at Oregon than she did last year at Duke, she is still able to make an impact for her teammates as a veteran leader.
“I help the other outfielders be prepared for every game and every situation,” Morris said. “Between every pitch and every at-bat, I just continue to talk to them, so they always know the situation.”
And ultimately, the most exciting change to Morris’ game since joining Oregon's program has been the joy for softball she rediscovered.
“I think the biggest (change for me) is playing with joy and playing with happiness,” Morris said. “Playing my fifth year, I have to leave everything on the field and be able to relax and be confident in the preparation I have had over my softball career. Everything I have done up to this moment has prepared me for every game I am going to play in.”