OAK HILL — Through her freshman and sophomore years, Kailey Adkins made a name for herself throughout the softball landscape.
Whether it was school ball or travel ball, her name continued to get out there and soon enough, colleges came calling.
She eventually gave her verbal commitment to West Liberty University, and made it official on Wednesday as she inked with the Hilltoppers.
“I really enjoyed the campus, and meeting all the girls on the team when I visited just made me feel that this was the right place,” Adkins said. “The girls were incredibly nice and welcoming. (West Liberty) Coach (Herb) Minch is a really nice guy and a good coach, and just talking with him just assured me this was it.”
The last time Adkins took to the circle for Oak Hill back in the 2019 season, she helped guide the Oaks to a 16-10 season, including a 9-5 record inside of SOC II play.
The Oaks were primed for a huge season this past spring, quite possibly a run to districts with everyone returning from that 2019 team before COVID-19 shut everything down.
It also took away her chance to play overseas in Italy over the summer after being selected by the AIST (American International Sports Teams) softball team.
“I was so bummed and mad,” Adkins said. “It was a USA team that travels across Italy and plays at six different places. But of course, COVID took it away.”
Still yet, it gives an idea just how good Adkins was and still is as she continues getting better every day.
She’ll join a Hilltopper team that was 7-9 before the season was canceled, but went 38-19 in the 2019 season that included a Division II regional final appearance.
“I’ve been working a lot on strengthening my arm and gaining more speed,” Adkins said. “I’ve also worked on locating my pitches better and developing some new ones as well. It’s a been a lot of long days and repetition, but I know that I need to have options once I take the circle.
“I want to do my part as a pitcher on the team and I want to show that my work ethic is just as strong as anyone else’s. I want West Liberty to know its getting a player that will do whatever it takes to win.”
However, before she steps on campus in West Virginia, she has one more season at Oak Hill and under new leadership with Tom McNerlin taking over as head coach.
Adkins undoubtedly will step into a leadership role and has a lot of pressure on her right arm to deliver, but she’s ready for her elevated role this season.
“I welcome the leadership with open arms. If I’m being honest, it’s much needed for myself,” Adkins said. “Even last year before the season was canceled, a lot of the then freshmen and sophomores came to me for advice, asked me to help and I’d go to the field with them. I wanted to make sure they were getting all their work in.
“My hope is that when I graduate that there are kids who watch me play and know that you can accomplish anything. Playing Division II softball and coming from a small school like Oak Hill is awesome. Hopefully those kids watching know they are capable.”