BELOIT—Kailyn Packard had already endured one season without a pitching coach.
Doing it again this spring was too much to bear for the former Beloit Turner star hurler.
Packard recently announced her decision to transfer to the University of Northern Iowa, where she will pitch in the spring as a red-shirt sophomore.
“I loved Kansas City, the coaches and my teammates,” Packard said. “But when they said the coach was quitting and wouldn’t be replaced for at least a year, I decided to explore my options. Pitching coaches are so critical to the success of a pitcher. It happened to me my freshman year too, and it was really hard to not get that constant feedback.”
When Packard entered the transfer portal, it didn’t take long for her to find a new home.
“The pitching coach at Northern Iowa (Monica Wright) was (sister) Kelsie’s pitching coach at Valparaiso, so there was a lot of familiarity there,” Packard said. “UNI was the first school to reach out to me. They’ve got an awesome reputation for having a very competitive softball team, and they have the UNI-Dome, which is great. They are also known as a school with a great education program, which is what my major is. And it’s closer to home, which wasn’t a driving factor, but another thing that was awesome about UNI.”
After making the decision to transfer in August, Packard moved back home to Beloit and continued her virtual schooling at UMKC. She will move to Cedar Falls next week and enroll in what the school terms a ‘J’ term, which will also allow her to get familiar with her teammates.
“I’m really looking forward to starting to work out with them,” Packard said. “I think it’ll be really beneficial to meet the girls. There won’t be official team practices, but I can go into the facility and pitch to the catchers. Then the team will start official practices in January.”
The Panthers finished the shortened 2020 season with a 7-14 mark and return several pitchers from that squad.
“They have pitchers coming back, but some of them are position players, too,” Packard said. “So they brought me in to help with their depth on the staff.”
Packard started 33 games and appeared in 54 overall for UMKC, going 14-21 with a solid 3.36 ERA. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was not charged with a season of eligibility for last spring’s action.
Although it’s not their primary home field, the UNI-Dome is a huge asset to the squad.
“It gives us the opportunity to do full-team scrimmages the entire winter, which is a huge benefit,” Packard said. “They have a full-sized field in there, so the outfielders can get all the work they need as well. And the first weekend in February, we host a five-game tournament, so that’s a really cool way to start the year.”
Packard said she’s hoping for a season that’s as close to normal as possible.
“Right now, I know we have a full preseason set up and scheduled,” Packard said. “I’m just hoping for the best that we get to go out there and compete.”