Camdenton senior Kylee Compton is ready to begin the next chapter of her softball career.
It has been a long road for Compton, but it was one she traveled with grit and determination. After suffering a compound fracture in her ankle as a sophomore, Compton was unsure of what her future may hold. However, she did not allow herself to be separated from the game she loves and will continue her journey at Division II Drury University after signing with the school on Friday amongst her family, coaches, teammates and friends.
“I feel really blessed to be able to find a school like Drury to go and play at. Softball is something I have played since I was five years-old and it’s just been my dream my whole life to continue playing after high school so it is a wonderful feeling,” the senior said.
This opportunity was one that did not happen by chance though.
“A lot of hard work and hours, but I would not take any of them back,” Compton said of the work it took. “Whenever I broke my ankle I was not sure I was going to be able to play at a collegiate level so just being able to work back and get that opportunity is great.”
Camdenton Softball Coach Rick Calbert remembers all too well that grim day when Compton suffered her injury. The undefeated Lakers were visiting West Plains early in the season and Compton made a slide to second base that put everything on hold. According to Calbert, the doctor in the emergency room at West Plains said it was the worst fracture he had ever seen.
“For a lot of kids that would have been it. When she is laying on that softball field at second base with a bone about three inches through her leg you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, how are you ever coming back from that?’” Calbert recalled. “They put screws in there, a plate in there and here she comes back to be an All-District and All-Conference player who goes on to Drury to play softball. That is a lot of determination.
“I had an achilles tendon tear and I won’t even jog across the street. She has an injury like that and goes on to play college softball so that says a lot about her,” the coach added.
Compton will be joining the pitching staff at Drury and the senior said it just felt like home during her visit to the campus in Springfield. A big reason why she loves the game is the camaraderie of it and how one can get to know people so well just by playing. Not to mention that it is a place where she can happily pursue her academics.
“Whenever I met the coaches they were so kind and welcoming along with the teammates and you don’t always find that whenever you go visit a school,” Compton said. “Drury is really known for its arts and I’m planning on either majoring in theatre and education or music therapy so they have everything that I love all in one place at Springfield.”
Calbert said the senior has plenty to offer the school on and off the field over the next four years. On top of her All-District and All-Conference honors, Compton was also Academic All-State.
“She is a tremendously smart student gifted in theatre and drama and she is a heck of an athlete,” Calbert stated. “I know when she and Kelly (Uthe) came to bat I scooted back down the line because when they crank one down the line there is not much time to get out of the way. She is going to bring hitting and fielding and she is a heck of a pitcher and heck of a leader having been a team captain for us.”
Compton will not quickly forget these past four years at Camdenton that saw the Lakers go 70-33 winning nearly 70 percent of their games and capture the program’s first district championship.
“My four years as a Laker have been wonderful,” she noted. “I have gotten to play with my best friends all these years. I’ll definitely miss all the memories and it is very bittersweet, but I know that they helped me get to the point where I can go on and know that we left a legacy here.”
She had a few words of advice for those who will take the field for Camdenton in the years to come as well.
“Keep working, have fun with it and don’t take it too seriously because when you have fun that is when you’ll play your best,” she pointed out.
Calbert would certainly agree with that message and noted that her presence on the diamond will not be so easily duplicated.
“Kylee is just one of those people that when we do a summer camp those little kids just run to, to be around and that is going to be hard to replace. Even if you could find someone with the talent she had, to have that type of personality and leadership is going to be hard to replicate,” he noted.
Compton is the third player of the softball senior class to continue their career at the collegiate level after Uthe previously signed with Highland Community College and Kristyn Carpenter joined Three Rivers Community College. According to Calbert, Erin Rasmussen had her opportunities to play collegiately as well, but chose to pursue her academics and go to the University of Missouri. Still, the senior plans to be around the diamond as Calbert said she intends to try out for the intramural team.
“We are going to miss those seniors a great, great deal. Those four seniors have really meant a lot to the program and have really set goals for us to try to continue to reach and follow up on,” he said of a group that received All-Conference and All-District honors three or four years in a row. “They came in and all of them started every game as freshmen. They have helped to build this program and a lot of it is on their shoulders.”
Their efforts have not gone unnoticed either.
“We have freshmen coming in that know of them and know what they accomplished. Hopefully it will just be one of those things that continues to build and build and build,” Calbert added. “A lot of it is due to the work that those four seniors put in.”
Time will soon tell what Compton and her former teammates can accomplish at the next level.