Horton makes seamless transition from Curry to Oxford

Freshman off to fast start for Rebels

By W. BRIAN HALE, Eagle Sports Writer
Posted 3/11/17

OXFORD, Miss — A lot has changed for Kaylee Horton since leaving the field at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park after being crowned as a two-time state champion.

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Horton makes seamless transition from Curry to Oxford

Freshman off to fast start for Rebels

Posted

OXFORD, Miss — A lot has changed for Kaylee Horton since leaving the field at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park after being crowned as a two-time state champion.

Gone are the afternoons of practice with life-long teammates and friends at Curry High School. The game day uniform has shifted from blue and yellow to dark blue and red, and the new venue Horton plays in sports logos from the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA.

What has not changed for Horton is her play — she still makes outstanding catches, steals bases regularly and is one of the top offensive threats for the No. 22 Ole Miss Rebels, just as she was as a member of the Curry softball program.

This week’s Ole Miss Classic provided Horton with the opportunity to show her teammates, coaches and fans why she was chosen as a starter in her first year in Oxford.

On Thursday, her clutch hit in the bottom of the third inning against the Bowling Green Falcons began a five-run offensive surge that broke a scoreless tie and culminated in an 8-1 Ole Miss victory. On Friday, she had one of her best performances of the season at the plate in a 12-6 win over Eastern Kentucky when she went 3 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI.

On the season, she has started in 20 of the Rebels’ 21 games and has a .385 batting average, with 12 runs scored, two doubles and seven RBIs.

The stunning achievement of being named a starter for the Rebels as a freshman was a goal Horton worked hard for and is proud to have accomplished.

“It’s an amazing feeling to know that I’m a starter and that I’m going to give my very best for my teammates, even as a freshman,” Horton said. “I came to Ole Miss with the intention of working hard each and every day and use that hard work to get a starting spot. Even with the goal accomplished, I’m going to work just as hard to show that the trust placed in me was well-earned.”

Horton and her teammates are part of a new wave of uncharted success for the Ole Miss softball program. Before this season, the Rebels had never been ranked in the Top 25. After debuting in the 23rd spot a few weeks ago, the Rebels have risen to No. 22. With the win over Eastern Kentucky, Ole Miss clinched its 500th program victory, is enjoying a school record 15-game winning streak and is off to its best start since the team’s inception.

The experience of being part of such landmark achievements in Ole Miss athletic history has not been lost on Horton, who is enjoying her time with the team and in Oxford.

“It’s wonderful being a part of this team and knowing we’re making something of ourselves. In the past, Ole Miss softball did not hold prestige and had very little notoriety — now, we’re being put on the map. We’re seeing our hard work pay off,” Horton said. “I’ve been having so much fun at the same time. Our team is great — all of the girls are so friendly, they’ll do anything for each other. It’s another family for me.”

Friendships have also formed quickly for Horton among her teammates. First base/pitcher and Oklahoma transfer Brittany Finney has been one her closest friends and she counts the team’s two seniors, Miranda Strother and Courtney Syrett among her strongest connections.

“Brittany and I are best friends — we hit it off really quickly and I have a great time with her,” Horton said. “Courtney and Miranda have always helped me out no matter what the situation is. They’re always checking in on us and giving us rides whenever we need it. As a whole, the team is a collection of wonderful ladies and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”