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What It's Like To Transfer From JUCO To Division I

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(Photos courtesy of Ryleigh Denton)

Originally from Rotan, Texas, a town in the western part of the state with a population of less than 2,000 people, Ryleigh Denton spent much of her younger days playing high school and travel softball with hopes of one day playing in college.

Now, she is a pitcher at Tyler Junior College, and plans to graduate this spring before furthering her softball career next fall as a Division I player at Northwestern State. Denton is currently Tyler's ace with a 6-2 record and a 1.70 ERA in 66 innings of work so far in 2022.

Softball America spoke with Denton about her recruiting process and getting ready to go from the junior college level to the Division I level. See below for SA's full interview with her.

Softball America: What is your favorite part about being a college athlete?

Ryleigh Denton: My favorite things have included being close with my team, being on the field together and having great friends to surround myself with every day. Before college, I really wasn’t sure what to expect except knowing it would be a struggle to manage my time with classes, homework and softball.

SA: Who has impacted your softball journey the most?

RD: I think my parents have impacted my softball journey the most. They helped me get started and continued to help me achieve my dream of playing college softball.

SA: What was it like getting recruited while in high school to Tyler versus in college to Northwestern State?

RD: While you're being recruited in high school, you have to get your name out there through emails, introductions and showing what you can offer their team while on the field. A key difference between being recruited in high school and in college is when you are already a college athlete, college coaches know you have advanced softball experience. Plus, they are able to see your stats and talk to your coaches about you.

SA: What advice do you have for any JUCO athletes looking to get recruited to other divisions?

RD: My advice is to talk to your current coach and get them to see if some colleges you are looking into need your position. Also, emailing colleges you are interested in is a great way to see if they are interested in you. Another great way to gain knowledge about schools is to look at some colleges your team might play against during the fall and see if you may have an interest in them.

SA: Do you have any advice for younger athletes aspiring to play college softball?

RD: My advice is to join a travel team that goes to big tournaments, keep practicing and always have a desire to get better.

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