Recent Howard Payne Lady Jacket transfer catcher/first baseman Kayla Hill has made a stunning introduction into NCAA Division III softball after belting three home runs in seven games.
Hill attributed her early success to working on her swing with HPU assistant coach David Foster, who seems to have quickly transformed Hill into one of the more formidable batters in the American Southwest Conference.
“Coach Foster has been working on my hitting a lot and just seeing a lot of live at-bats. I don’t go out trying to hit home runs. I just try to get on base and do my job by scoring runs. If a home run comes, then a home run comes. Something me and Foster have been working on a lot is my swing, keeping my stance small and being aggressive with my at-bats.”
Hill transferred to Howard Payne University last summer after wrapping up a career at two-year Clarendon College. Before Clarendon, she was a standout with Maypearl High School.
Thus far, Hill has a .368 batting average with a team-leading 9 RBIs. She is second in hits and third in runs scored. Hill said the biggest change in shifting from junior college to DIII is the drop in frequency of games.
“It’s definitely a transition, but it’s going good,” she said. “It’s a big transition from playing so many games at JUCO to not as many games here, which is a good thing because you have more practice time. It’s nice. It’s relieving knowing this is my last round. I’m not going anywhere else. I’m here to stay. I found a home.”
Hill majors in education and hopes to become a graduate assistant for the Lady Jackets or the Clarendon Lady Bulldogs once her playing days are over. Until then, she hopes to continue improving and working to build a program she believes opposing teams mistakenly overlook.
“The returning players told me this is the best team they have been around in a long time,” Hill said. “It’s exciting to know that we beat a higher ranked team in Belhaven. People don’t know who we are. We’re really going to give them a run for their money and that is exciting.”