By Taylor Pannell
I turned 13 on August 27 and since then I’ve been to camps at Oklahoma, Arizona, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan and Auburn. It all happened so fast.
Recruiting really picked up in the fall this year. When my dad told me about the new rule, I knew I wanted to find my options now so I started calling like crazy and going to all these camps. Coaches were coming out to all the showcases and inviting me to their winter camps. It got really intense the past couple of months.
I really wanted to commit at an early age to get it over with and not have to worry about it my junior and senior year. That was the most stressful month and I cried a lot during it. I felt like I always had to be good in front of all the coaches so they would want me. I always needed to perform my best at the camps and I thought that if I had a bad game then they would think I was horrible.
I got all of my offers in the last month and Auburn just felt like home to me. I fell in love with Auburn and the coaching staff. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make but I felt like Auburn was the better match for me. The thing that set Auburn apart from the other schools is the chance to go to the Women’s College World Series. I also wrote down all my needs on day one and AU met all of those.
The coaches didn’t give me a timeline to make my decision but the possibility of the rule change definitely made me want to make my decision. I knew I didn’t want to wait until my junior year. When the recruiting process started, I knew I wanted to commit by my freshman or sophomore year. Junior year is just too long. The thought of waiting that long without talking to my college coach worries me a little but I know I will be attending all the camps until then.
A good thing about early recruiting is that it gives us a chance to get to know our future teammates. The new rule will really affect my team because most of us are looking at schools right now. I think if I weren’t already committed, I would miss out on a lot of opportunities like going to the camps and visiting with the coaches. It takes some people years to figure out where they want to go and if I were older, I wouldn’t have that time.
I’m not sure what I want to study yet but I’m leaning towards being an orthodontist. I would be pre-dental at Auburn and then go somewhere else after. I think if I work hard enough at AU, I can get there.
EDITORS NOTE: Taylor Pannell plays third base and shortstop for the 14U Futures Premier Beverly Bandits. She is in 8th grade in Rock Island, Ill. and verbally committed to Auburn University on Jan. 8, 2018.