Kylie Cox's passion for softball is contagious.
It comes through when the 16 year old is describing why shortstop is her favorite position.
"Being able to turn double plays, to me, is the most action in the game. If you can turn a double play, you can do anything," Cox said.
It comes through when she's talking about how Texas Rangers Youth Academy Director of Baseball and Softball Programs Juan Leonel Garciga, who also coaches Cox at the Academy, tells her she's a homerun hitter.
"I've never hit an actual homerun before, but I'm a very powerful hitter. I'm just really impatient," Cox said. "My biggest weakness I would say is patience. I know it about myself but I'm trying to work on it…But just seeing it fly is just the best feeling ever. And just knowing that you have all that time to run. You can just feel it. I love it so much. I really do."
And it comes through when the junior at W.W. Samuel High School talks about how much she and her teammates have been able to improve, thanks to the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota.
"While we may not have the good training and all the opportunities and resources at our high school, we come here and we have everything right in front of us. There's no excuses why we can't excel. That's been great. Without this, I feel like a bunch of, especially my team, the girls wouldn't be where they're at today," Cox said.
Cox is looking at softball as a possible route to a college scholarship. She dreams of playing for the Oklahoma Sooners or Florida Gators and studying psychology or sociology, eventually going into law enforcement.
And she's fueling her dreams with help from the Academy, where she plays in the summer and fall RBI leagues and attends as many camps and clinics as possible.
"As far as getting scholarships to college, that's on me," Cox said. "I have to make sure that I'm doing what I have to do, coming out here and working hard every day. Making sure my grades are right."
Cox doesn't take that responsibility lightly. As a high school junior, she faces a rapidly approaching deadline, having just joined the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) college sports recruiting platform, also thanks in part to assistance from Academy staff.
It's all moving very quickly for someone who had never even tried softball until eighth grade. A recent conversation with her NCSA recruiting coach highlighted the shortened timeline for her, pointing out that some high school freshmen are already looking at scholarship offers.
"I know I'm not on that level because I haven't been playing since I was 6, but that only makes me want to work harder," Cox said. "My goal would be to get better as many ways as I can, to just get out there in front of somebody, get in somewhere."
Cox credits the Academy and staff with putting her on the path to pursue a softball scholarship.
"It's unbelievable, all the opportunities it's opened for me. Honestly, when I started out, I didn't think I was going to get anywhere," Cox said. "I really just thought I was going to finish high school and get in through a different way to college. But coming here and seeing everything that they offer, it's given me a whole different mindset."
Calhoun to Appear at Clinic Tomorrow
Texas Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun is expected to make an appearance during The Buck O'Neil Scouts Association Clinic at the Academy tomorrow, Saturday, November 10. The clinic will run from 8:45 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. on Oates Field.
Founded in honor of the late legendary player and scout Buck O'Neil, the Buck O'Neil Professional Baseball Scouts & Coaches Association was created to provide a forum for scouts and coaches to share their passion for the game. O'Neil was the first African American to coach in the Major Leagues and one of the first to scout fulltime.
The clinic aims to promote baseball in inner-cities by educating coaches and mentoring players. Registration is still available at rangers.com/academy for players ages 13 through 18.
More Clinics Saturday
Kershaw's Challenge Baseball Camp will also take place at the Academy tomorrow, Saturday, November 10, from 10: a.m. through 4:00 p.m.
This marks the seventh annual Kershaw's Challenge Baseball Camp, hosted by Mercy Street.
Dallas native Clayton Kershaw and his wife Ellen founded Kershaw's Challenge in 2011 and have since given over six millions dollars to support at-risk children and families around the globe. The foundation contributed generously to the building of the Academy facility, which includes Kershaw's Challenge Field named in his honor.
Fall Programming Enters Final Week
Athletes hoping to participate in Youth Academy Fall Training Program have just three more nights to be part of the fun, as next week will mark the final week of the programming.
The free camp occurs Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. through November 15. Registration is available for baseball and softball players ages 7 through 18 at www.rangers.com/academy.
Through seven weeks of the Youth Academy Fall Training program, 1,126 baseball and softball players have taken part in the activities.
Fall RBI Winding Down
The fall season of RBI baseball and softball is winding down at the Academy, with the final games scheduled for November 17.
An updated schedule for the eight baseball and four softball teams playing at the Academy is below.
Scheduling is subject to change, and updates will be posted via the @RangersYA twitter account.
ACADEMY RBI FALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 9: A's at Mercy Street, Josh Hamilton Field (softball), 7 p.m.
Nov. 9: Tigers at Rangers, Kershaw's Challenge Field (softball), 7 p.m.
Nov. 10: Rangers at Mercy Street, Oates Field (baseball) 2 p.m.
Nov. 10: Leopards at Jaguars, Oates Field (baseball), 4 p.m.
Nov. 10: Mustangs at Vikings, Oates Field (baseball), 6 p.m.
Nov. 10: Hard Hitters at Lancaster, Oates Field (baseball), 8 p.m.
Nov. 17: Mustangs at Jaguars, Oates Field (baseball), 9 a.m.
Nov. 17: Rangers at Vikings, Field of Dreams (baseball), 9 a.m.
Nov. 17: Leopards at Lancaster, Oates Field (baseball), 11:30 a.m.
Nov. 17: Hard Hitters at Mercy Street, Field of Dreams (baseball), 11:30 a.m.
Nov. 17: Hard Hitters at Mercy Street, Josh Hamilton Field (softball), 9 a.m.
Nov. 17: Rangers at A's, Josh Hamilton Field (softball), 11 a.m.
Also Taking the Field
The Academy is also home field for Mercy Street Little League. The fall campaign is drawing to a close, with Saturday November 17 the last day of the season.
West Dallas Little League partners with the Little League Urban initiative to facilitate baseball and softball for participants ages four through 12.
Registration is available at https://www.mercystreetdallas.org/baseball/
West Dallas Youth College Prep Night: Friday, November 16, 5:00-8:00p.m.
The Mobile Go Center (MGC) will roll into the Academy to help the class of 2019 fill out their FAFSA/TASFA and Apply Texas forms.
Part of Texas Woman's University's Go Program, the MGC provides college-going resources to high school students and their families with the goal of increasing the number of Texas students enrolling in higher education. An extension of the College for All Texans Campaign, the MGC is equipped with laptops, high-speed internet and access to digital resources and publications.
Registration for the free event is available now at https://texasrangersya.leagueapps.com/classes/858949-west-dallas-youth-college-prep.