From winning a KHSAA State Championship to winning an SEC Championship, Kaylee Tow is on her way to playing on one of the biggest stages in softball with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
“If I were to go back and talk with myself as a freshman in high school, I would’ve told her to work hard and trust in God’s plan,” Tow said. “If I told her that she would be a state champion, an SEC champion and she’s going to go play in the College World Series, she would’ve laughed in my face. Those are the biggest dreams as a softball player.”
Alabama will begin their march to the ultimate prize in Oklahoma City against Arizona today.
“Arizona has a legendary softball program who’s very well coached,” Tow said. “This tournament will be about our seven seniors and being able to have them end their career wearing a Crimson Tide uniform the right way. It’s going to be hard to see these seniors go, especially Bailey Hemphill, who taught me a lot about hitting during my time here.”
Hemphill broke the program record for career home runs during Alabama’s SEC tournament game against Kentucky, with Tow standing in the on-deck circle.
A senior herself this year, Tow said she will opt for her extra year of NCAA eligibility that all spring sports athletes were given after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the 2020 season.
“It was devastating when we found out that our season was canceled,” Tow recalled. “At that point, we were starting to head into the right direction after getting off to a slow start. But coming back home and being in quarantine actually made me fall in love with the game of softball all over again. You kind of get overwhelmed with all the every day things like getting up early for practices and conditioning, but I was able to find that spark that I had as a little girl playing softball. When I went back home, I realized that I wanted to keep on playing the game.
“Next year will all be about my legacy to this program,” Tow continued. “We’ll have a very young team after this season, and I’ll want to give back to those underclassmen.”
Those underclassmen already have a taste of championship caliber softball with a conference title to their name already in 2021.
“That whole week of the SEC Tournament was awesome since we were able to host it at our place, and we were able to win it in front of our fans,” Tow said. “It was especially special to me since I was able to have my family there, and I love winning in front of them so they can see me firsthand making my dreams come true.”
After staying home and beating Alabama State and Clemson in the regional round, Alabama had to face Kentucky in the super regional round — a squad that featured Tow’s former Madisonville North Hopkins teammate, Mallory Peyton.
“That series against UK was so emotional for both me and Mallory,” Tow said. “She’s like a sister to me and her father is like my second Dad. I didn’t want to see her career end, but at the same time, I didn’t want our seniors’ careers to end either.”
UK ended up getting swept in two games with Tow going 3-for-6 for the series with a couple of RBI’s in game two. Peyton went 1-for-6 in the final two games of her college career. She will not be playing an extra year as she’ll be attending optometry school.
“It was a tough series for us because we had a lot of family and friends from Madisonville at the games cheering us on,” Tow said. “We pushed each other when we were kids and continued to do so while playing in college. She had a heck of a career at UK, and we both cried after the final game of the series. It was hard to know that her career was over.”
Back home in Madisonville, Tow’s former squad is preparing to defend their 2nd Region title.
“I want those girls to know that they’re never out of a game,” Tow said. “Just keep fighting and clawing. I always say that if there’s outs left, there’s a chance to win. I had a lot of great experiences playing softball in Madisonville, and I hope the girls there now don’t take it for granted.”
Alabama will be taking on Arizona at 6 p.m. today on ESPN.