The Texas A&M softball program is off to another rocky offseason.
Infielder Baylee Klingler, a cornerstone in its freshman class, announced that she is transferring via Twitter on Friday.
“I wanted to thank God, loved ones and fans for all the support I have gotten throughout my freshman year at Texas A&M,” Klingler tweeted. “With A LOT of thought and prayer I have decided to continue my career at a different program. Texas A&M will ALWAYS hold a special place in my heart and I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey, because I’ve learned so much.”
Klingler batted .289 and was one of three Aggies to start all 55 games this season. She had the team’s third-highest batting average among players with at least 100 at-bats behind juniors Kelbi Fortenberry (.343) and Payton McBride (.329).
Klingler and freshman catcher Haley Lee, who batted .269, were the top recruits in an incoming seven-player class which combined for 168 starts. The group helped A&M overcome several losses from a 44-18 team that came an out away from a second straight trip to the Women’s College World Series. Only one starter from the 2018 team returned because of graduation and transfers with pitcher/designated hitter Samantha Show going to Oklahoma State and outfielders Sarah Hudek and Keeli Milligan landing with Louisiana-Lafayette. A&M junior second baseman Kaityln Alderink also quit the sport, and pitcher Maddie MacGrandle transferred to Oregon.
A&M typically has been the team getting key transfers under coach Jo Evans, who just completed her 23rd season.
“At times it felt challenging to have the turnover, because that hasn’t been our M.O.,” Evans said before the season started. “Kids stay here. It doesn’t matter if they start a game in their entire career — they aren’t going to give up an opportunity here. That was different.”
The freshman class helped A&M extend its school-record run of making the NCAA tournament to 18 straight despite finishing last in the Southeastern Conference. A&M’s season ended with three straight hard-fought losses — 3-2 to Mississippi State in the SEC tournament and 3-1 to Houston and 3-2 in eight innings to Texas in the NCAA tournament. Klingler went 2 for 11 with an RBI in those games.
Klingler, who had hitting streaks of six and seven games, had hits in 10 of her last 15 games. She started the season at first base but moved to third base midway through the season when Riley Sartain, the team’s only senior, moved from third base to shortstop. Those moves helped solidify a leaky defense. Klingler, who played the last 25 games at third, had a .986 fielding average with 221 putouts, 62 assists and four errors.
Klingler, who committed to A&M before her freshman season at Dickinson, was rated the country’s No. 4 recruit in the class of 2018 by FloSoftball.com. The consensus high school All-American helped the USA Junior women’s team win the gold medal at the 2017 WBCS Junior World Championship by hitting .393 with two homers and 12 RBIs. Her freshman season at A&M was highlighted by hitting all five of her homers in SEC play, including a three-run shot in a 6-4 victory at 11th-ranked Tennessee in the team’s last victory.
An A&M official confirmed that Klingler, who made the All-SEC freshman team, is transferring.
“Although this was easily the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, I’m very excited for what God has in store for my future!” Klingler said. “Thank you for respecting my decision.”