BY MIKE BLACKERBY
Kaylan Cole’s voice still resonates with passion as she talked about her decision.
The King’s Academy standout will play softball for her dream school, the University of Tennessee.
The junior committed to the tradition-rich Lady Vols Wednesday night, picking UT over Toledo, Charleston Southern and East Tennessee State among others.
Cole said her decision was a no-brainer.
“I got my first glove when I was 6 or 7 – it was pink with a ‘T’ on it,” said Cole.
“I remember sitting in the stands watching UT and just being in awe of them. I always dreamed of playing at the highest level and playing for them. I just love playing the game.”
— TKA Softball (@TKASoftball) January 16, 2019
Cole will give the Lady Vols a versatile player who could conceivably play several positions.
“They’re looking at her as an athlete,” said TKA coach Marc Weekly, the son of Ralph Weekly and stepson of Karen Weekly, the co-UT softball coaches.
“She pitches and can play the middle infield for us or third, but I see her being a college outfielder. We’re going to get her more outfield time this year.”
Cole, a Cocke County native, posted lofty numbers last season as the Lady Lions finished 35-3.
TKA was denied a shot at a third-consecutive state Division II Class A state championship after a postseason upset loss to Rosemark-Tipton.
During the 2018 season, Cole compiled a 25-3 pitching record and batted .471.
She blasted 12 home runs with 51 RBIs and 28 extra-base hits.
Cole is a two-time all-state selection since joining the Lady Lions as a sophomore.
Weekly said the Lady Vols are getting a gem, both on and off the field, in Cole.
“She’s just a really good kid and athlete,” he said.
Cole is the second King’s Academy player to cast her lot with UT.
Senior Maddie Webber committed to the Lady Vols as an eighth grader and signed in November.
Three other Lady Lions have also signed scholarships.
Haydyn Jenkins and Katelyn Norris will play for Charleston Southern while Regan Weekly will play at Dartmouth.
Cole said she can’t wait to become a Lady Vol, but first things first.
After coming up just short last season, her top priority is helping TKA regain its state championship form.
“I hate losing,” she said. “Losing is something I don’t handle well. Having the record we did last year and losing (was tough) because we’re family.”