Whitewright's Clements signs with Tyler JC

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Whitewright senior Kyleigh Clements signs to play softball for Tyler Junior College.

WHITEWRIGHT — Kyleigh Clements hopes she can do at the next level exactly what she did for the Lady Tigers. Make an immediate impact.

Four years ago she jumped into the Whitewright lineup at short and hasn’t stopped hitting with the final stretch of her senior season in sight.

And with an eye on a strong district finish, Clements also looked to her future as she signed her letter of intent to play softball for Tyler Junior College.

She chose the Apaches over Morgan State, a Division I program in Baltimore, and Galveston College.

“Sometimes you feel like you click with all the coaches. The girls were so welcoming. It really felt like a home away from home,” said Clements said, who is a career .470 hitter. “This is a great opportunity for me. There were a lot of Division I schools interested but then with COVID, those possibilities went away because there wasn’t money to give anymore. I wasn’t the only one affected by it.”

While she has been at short for her entire high school career, Clements could see time in the outfield at Tyler.

“I’m excited to go in and compete,” she said. “I love the outfield. I expressed that. If that’s what they need to make the team better then I’m more than willing to do that.”

The Lady Tigers are off to a 12-4 start and are 2-3 in District 11-3A as they looked to advance to the postseason again and then earn a playoff win for the first time since 2015.

“We’ve had a few hiccups but I think we’re doing better,” Clements said. “Last year was frustrating. We had everything to make the playoffs. I’m hoping this season we can finish what we started last season.”

Through 16 games, Clements is hitting .457 with a .596 on-base percentage with three doubles, three home runs, 18 RBI, 23 runs and 20 stolen bases.

Last season, Whitewright was looking to make back-to-back playoff appearances and was off to a 10-4-2 start that included opening District 10-3A play 2-0 when the season was stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As a sophomore, she hit .443, with a pair of home runs, 27 RBI and scored 29 times. Whitewright went 21-6 and was the 10-3A runner-up with a bi-district loss against S&S.

During her freshman year she was honorable mention all-district but also an honorable mention all-state selection after hitting .520 with 10 doubles, four homers, three triples, 33 RBI, 29 runs and nine steals.

Tyler Junior College is currently 13-11 overall and 6-4 in Region XIV East Zone Division play.

When last season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Apaches were 21-3 and ranked No. 5 in the nation.

In the two full seasons prior to 2020, the program had a combined 113-23 record and won the Region XIV title once and was the runner-up the other season and made the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series each season.

Tyler, which also qualified for the World Series in 2017 and 2016 as well, started the softball program in the spring of 2015. The Apaches have won at least 39 games every year of their existence.

“That’s a big factor for me,” Clements said. “I wanted to find a junior college that would help me continue upwards as a player.”