Why Kadence Stafford Chose Kansas
Kadence Stafford grew up adoring University of Kansas sports. One of her favorite memories from childhood was watching standout basketball player Devonte' Graham light up the court at Allen Fieldhouse with her family.
While no one in her family went to Kansas, both of her parents are from Kansas and are huge fans of the Jayhawks. It was only fitting, then, when the Arkansas native stepped on campus for a visit and instantly fell in love.
“I knew immediately that’s where I wanted to go,” said Stafford, a softball player in the high school class of 2023.
She loved the university’s facilities and the two dorms she saw, and said she fit right in when she attended a KU practice. It was the only visit she went on, though a few “smaller schools” and Tulsa expressed interest in Stafford during her recruiting process.
When September Flanagan—her Iowa Premier 18U teammate—also committed to the Jayhawks, it cemented Stafford’s decision. The pair currently play middle infield for their travel team and are preparing to bring their connection up the middle to Arrocha Ballpark.
Stafford got into softball when she was five years old. Her father, Michael, played baseball for Emporia State in Kansas, and her sister played softball in high school. She was always around the game, and would frequently practice with her father before and after team practice.
Out in her backyard or at her high school field, Michael would hit his daughter ground balls and play long toss with her. In part, it’s what led to Stafford becoming such a standout infielder and a dynamic outfielder for her high school softball team as well.
By the time Stafford was a sophomore in high school, she knew she had the talent to play at a Power Five program in college.
“There really weren't like a bunch (of teams),” Stafford said. “I never went on any other visits. KU was my only one,” Stafford said.
When Stafford committed in October 2021, Kansas was coming off a 22-26 season the spring before. But Stafford trusted head coach Jennifer McFalls, and said she’d rather go to a place where she could play right away than sit on the bench.
Stafford, who is a gap-to-gap hitter, helped her high school team win back-to-back state championships in 2021 and 2022, earning the 6A Newcomer of the Year award in 2021. In high school, she's been defined by winning, and when she steps on campus at Kansas next year, she’ll try to help turn around a program she grew up loving.
“It's going to be really exciting,” Stafford said. “I've been waiting and I’m ready to go now.”