Kaylee Tow announced her presence to the Alabama softball team in a meeting last August when she arrived on campus.
“I’m fearless,” she told them.
College softball hasn’t daunted the freshman from Madisonville, Kentucky. The 6-foot outfielder, a left-handed hitter, is batting a team-high.366 with nine of her 15 hits going for extra bases. Her four home runs also lead the 13th-ranked Crimson Tide through 17 games, and she has drawn 10 walks, second-best on the roster.
She says college ball is an adjustment, but the numbers don’t show it.
“It’s a lot faster,” she said. “Just like in between innings and in between at-bats you always have to be paying attention and be ready because someone could steal a base or do something crazy.
“At the other levels, not so much. You can usually anticipate what’s about to happen.”
The other levels, for Tow, were the highest. Alabama coach Patrick Murphy believes that has speeded her transition.
“She played a lot of high-level travel ball,” he said. “Usually that bodes well: you’ve seen a lot of the best pitchers. Now when she gets into college it’s like, ‘I’ve seen her, I’ve seen her.’”
Her travel ball team played in major national tournaments. She also trained with the U.S. junior national team in the summer of 2016 and won a world junior championship last summer.
So while she now gets more detailed scouting information at the college level, she kind of has this thing figured out.
“I just take things as a suggestion. I know what she has, but that’s not necessarily what I’m going to get,” she said. “I feel like I’m always ready to hit both sides of the plate and whatever (pitches) I’m going to get, and in the back of my mind I know she has a good curveball or she has a good whatever.”
Murphy is still figuring out what to do with her. She has batted leadoff and her power numbers make her a candidate for the cleanup spot in the order.
“She hits the long ball, so she’s going to drive in runs,” he said. “She gets on base. She takes her walks. So it’s a tough situation. She led off in high school and summer ball.
“She’s 6-foot, she’s not the fastest; she’s not slow but she’s not (outfielder) Elissa Brown. She’s a big left-handed presence, and I like that.”
Tow may not have settled into a single spot in the lineup yet, but she has settled in at Alabama even though she’s only played four home games. UA is scheduled to play five this weekend in the Easton Crimson Classic, starting Friday at 4 p.m. vs. Boston College.
The first weekend she played at home, she heard fans chanting her name in the stands.
“I know it’s not my parents,” she said. “These people know. And somebody called me a Kentucky wildcat: people know who you are. The crowd brings such a great atmosphere here that we don’t get to experience at other places, so it’s really special whenever we play here.”
Reach Tommy Deas at email@example.com or at 205-722-0224.
No. 13 Alabama softball in Easton Crimson Classic
Where: Rhoads Stadium
Schedule: Friday vs. Boston College 4 p.m., vs. Fordham 6 p.m.; Saturday vs. Boston College 1:30 p.m., vs. Fordham 4 p.m.; Sunday vs. Samford 1:30 p.m.
Records: Alabama 12-5, Boston College 6-10, Fordham 4-11, Samford 4-15
Radio: 93.3 FM